Leaders Sound Alarm on Abundance of Jail Inmates with Mental Illness
Gary Enos has written an excellent article in Mental Health Weekly about Paton and his experiences with bipolar in jail, and his activism for reform in the criminal justice system. The article also talks about Paton speaking at the Stepping Up Initiative in earlier this year in May.
Referring to himself as a “medical criminal” because he was arrested numerous times as a result of manifestations of his bipolar disorder, Paton Blough took the microphone at a national launch event last week to put a human face on the problem of jail populations swelling with inmates who have a serious mental illness.
As one of many speakers who favor more effective crisis intervention and other strategies to avert incarceration for these individuals, Blough said of the typical jail experience of persons with mental illness, “They’re a lot more screwed up when they come out than when they go in.”
The May 5 event in Washington, D.C., was held to announce a joint initiative sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Council of State Governments and the American Psychiatric Foundation to reduce the ranks of the more than 2 million adults with serious mental illness who are jailed in the United States each year. The Stepping Up initiative will seek to lessen the human toll on a population that, once jailed, tends to stay incarcerated longer than the general population and that runs a greater risk of being jailed again.