Treating the mentally ill instead of jailing them might actually work – LA Times

A good piece today from the LA Times Editorial Board that is very relevant to those of us in recovery. Many of us have been incarcerated and institutionalized because of our disease of addiction and we know that compassionate treatment will give addicts the best fighting chance.

Key quotes from piece:

“The largest psychiatric institutions in the United States are the Los Angeles County jails, the Cook County Jail in Chicago and Rikers Island in New York. L.A. County incarcerates thousands of mentally ill people. The Sheriff’s Department reports that more than 70% of inmates who enter jail report a serious illness, either mental or physical. The county is moving forward with a $2-billion-plus plan to replace the aging Men’s Central Jail with a new facility specifically geared toward mental health treatment — but still a jail. We’re back where we started, but this time even more literally than before: Mentally ill people are prisoners.”

“Making jails the centerpiece of mental health treatment is a monumental betrayal not just of the mentally ill, but of the forward-looking thinkers of the 1950s and ’60s who saw a path toward a more humane and civilized society. And it is inefficient as well; treatment in jail costs more than treatment in clinics.”

The article centers around a man who lives in permanent housing run by a non-profit called “Step-Up on Second” that’s really given him a second chance. He’s lived there for 11 years and runs a computer-trading program and is on the organizations’s board. He was once homeless.

I love stories of second chance. These are the stories that keep us going. We’ve all been given a second chance in recovery.

And this article makes clear that mental illness is a disease that needs to be treated, not punished. Let’s hope articles like this will start to change that mindset, helping mentally-ll folks with addiction issues recover.