A Crack of Light in a Dark Place. Providing Necessary M ental H ealth T reatment for the Inmates of Cook County Jail. General Overview.
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Problem: Cook County Jail, the home of 13,000 male and female inmates, has been deemed the largest mental health facility in the country. Unfortunately, most of the inmates with mental illnesses are neither receiving the appropriate treatment or care while awaiting their day in court, and are not receiving treatment once released back into the community.
Facts: While visiting his parents in Florida, Kenneth Donaldson told his father that he was afraid one of his neighbor’s was attempting to poison his food. His father petitioned the Florida court for a sanity hearing, Kenneth was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and was civilly committed to a Florida State Mental Hospital.
Supreme Court Ruling: A State cannot constitutionally confine a non-dangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely by themselves or with the help of family and friends.
Two Exceptions: (1) They are an imminent danger to themselves, or (2) They are an imminent danger to others.
(1): To increase funding for Public Health Facilities, Outpatient Treatment Centers, and private practitioners in Cook County so that inmates awaiting trial may receive much needed mental health treatment.
(2): To increase the capacity and upgrade the facilities at currently operating State Mental Health Hospitals to better treat and accommodate those inmates who are afflicted with more serious mental illnesses.
(3): To provide alternative sentencing options and treatment programs for Cook County Judges so that first time offenders and non-violent offenders with mental illnesses can receive medical treatment rather than prison sentences.
(4): To provide treatment options for released inmates with mental illness who have served their period of incarceration with a focus on preventing recidivism and providing long term mental healthcare for those with serious mental illness.
(5): To capitalize on newly available funds, resources and programs to treat the mentally ill as provided by the Federal Government.
In most jurisdictions, mental illness amongst women prisoners ranges from one quarter to one half of the total population.
Roughly two to three times the rate as male prisoners.
Lack of treatment forces D.C.F.S. (Illinois Department of Child and Family Services) to take custody of children, place them in temporary custodial care, and in some cases, terminate the parental rights of the mother.