The recent death of an incarcerated young man at the hands of his cellmate is a sad result of the mentally ill being incarcerated without proper treatment and care. The plight of the mentally ill cannot be ignored.
Another sad fact is that a very large percentage of those incarcerated are suffering from mental illness and, as in this case, are not getting medication or therapy. Our prisons are de facto mental institutions. Thousands of certified, diagnosed mentally ill people are doing time behind bars without medic ation and treatment. Many are unable or unwilling to comply with rules and regulations so are isolated in solitary confinement, actually intensifying their conditions.
We have come a long way from the days of stoning our offenders, burning the accused and cutting off the hands of thieves but we still have a long way to go. This social problem isn’t being resolved, it’s just being locked away.
All human beings deserve to be treated with respect. Any human rights abuse is just that — a human rights abuse. The mentally ill have the right to respect and proper treatment.