I finished watching The New Asylums last night, and it’s a great little documentary. It seems that our prison mental care facilities are far beyond what is available in the “real world” to these men when they are released, and since many of them become homeless and run out of meds, their mental illnesses flare up again and they become recidivists (’cause it’s hard not to be a violent criminal when you are suffering from a psychotic schizophrenic episode).
In fact, judges will admit that they often send people to prison because that’s the only place where they will get treatment. And prison can be incredibly bad for someone with a mental illness, because while they do a good job of providing care, the system just isn’t set up to deal with these people the way they need to be dealt with, and sometimes it can be difficult to determine the “difference between ‘mad’ and ‘bad’.”
It seems to me that a better public health system (universal care, anyone) would help a lot of these guys stay out of trouble in the first place.