Sunday, June 23, 2013

Has Kentucky Progressed in the Past 21 Years?

This national report was published in the Lexington Heard Leader on September 10, 1992
Ky. called worst in using jails for mentally ill

Study count non-criminals held not helped

Staff wire reports

Washington- Kentucky is the worst state in the nation for handling people with mental illness because it widely uses jails as substitute holding pens, two advocacy groups said yesterday.

Kentucky has the nation's highest percentage of jails holding mentally ill people who have not committed crimes, according to report by Ralph Nader organization Public Citizen and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

"Kentucky looks like the worse when he comes to misusing, abusing jails as mental health facilities," said Dr. E Fuller Torrey, a research psychiatrist and the principal author of the report.

"Kentucky is using jails as substitute mental hospitals," Torrey said. "This is a practice that should have gone out in the 1800s."

Kentucky and 15 other states expressly allow mentally ill people to be held, at least temporary, in jails Torrey said. Eight states outlaw the practice; others have no blanket rules or laws on the issue.

Kentucky was cited because it has the highest percentage, 81.1%, of jails holding mentally ill people not facing criminal charges, according to the report, which was based on a survey of 1391 cities and county jails nationwide.

The state with the second highest percentage is Mississippi with 75.9%. On average, 29% of jails in the United States hold mentally ill people who haven't committed crimes.

The state with the highest percentage of seriously ill patients among its total population was Colorado, at close to 11 percent.

"We agree, for the most part, that we have a problem in the state," said Brad Hughes, a spokesman for the Kentucky cabinet for Human Resources. "I don't know whether it's the worst in the nation."

Kentucky allows people with mental problems to be arrested on involuntary commitment warrants and sent initially to local jails.

Mentally ill people can be held in County and regional jails for up to 72 hours before being sent to mental hospitals, Hughes said. To help mentally ill people more than 48 hours, jails must send in mental health professionals.

"The state Human Resource Cabinet has lobbied since 1986 to outlaw jails as a temporary place to keep the mentally ill,: Hughes said. However the legislature had repeatedly rejected the change, largely because of the $1.7 million cost.

Reacting to the report, the Kentucky Alliance for the Mentally Ill yesterday called on the Governor Brereton Jones to include the issue in the special legislative session on health care slated for November.

"Little will be done to rectify the problem unless the governor, members of the General Assembly and the Public except the moral and physical responsibility for this criminalizing the illness, said Susie McElwain, the groups Executive Director.

The state Human Resource Cabinet will investigate the report claims that Kentucky's 15th community mental health centers are doing a poor job of assessing and treating mentally ill people, Hughes says.

But he rejected claims in the report the Kentucky has cut the number of hospital beds at state mental hospitals to save money, leaving mentally  ill people without treatment.

"We don't have a waiting list he said." "People aren't being turned away."

The report estimated that nationwide 30,000 seriously mentally ill patients are imprisoned in jails, were the causes of illness often go untreated and where they face high levels of physical abuse and rape.

Nearly three in 10 American jails are "surrogate mental hospitals", holding seriously mentally ill people who have not been charged for crime report said. More than 7% of the people held in jail including those facing criminal charges, have severe mental disorders.

Flathead County Mont., Has the worst record along Counties,

Flathead County Sheriff Jim DePont said the two local hospitals, Kalispell Regional Hospital an Glacier View do not accept private emergency psychiatric admissions.

Shane Roberts, chief operating officer at the regional hospital said,
"It is true we do not have dedicated psychiatric unit at the hospital, but for medical need psychiatric patients are accepted."

DePont said the state hospital is about 250 miles away and so crowded that it frequent takes months to get a patient in.

Expert involved with the report gave several reasons for the increasing use of jails as a surrogate psychiatric hospitals, chief among them where the steady deterioration of the network of hospitals, social workers, clinics and outreach programs that used to exist to care for the mentally ill. Police in many parts of the country appeared to pick up the mentally for a variety reasons, such as disturbing the peace or for their own safety and put them in jail in lieu of appropriate psychiatric facility.


Fast forward to June 2013, watch this video and be the judge if Kentucky has moved foward since 1992! 

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