Saturday, December 20, 2008

Maine Prisons Continue to House the Nation's Mentally Ill

There's much to be said about this. It's why I link to a news feed on prison reform. For now I will only say that Johnny Okie, a profoundly ill young man, was convicted quickly yesterday by a jury of his peers.

According to a Frontline documentary, a quarter (500,000) of the 2 million Americans in prison are mentally ill with 16 percent (320,000) classed as severely mentally ill. Make that 320,001. A young man who was arguably difficult and a drug abuser was driven to murder a friend and his father by insufficiently treated schizophrenia. He will spend the rest of his life in the Maine prison system. Other than adding him to the list of the suffering who are out of sight, out of mind, how is this in any way a good idea?

I cannot begin to say how disappointed I am in my fellow Mainers, nor how sad I am for his mother, Karen.

The whole public broadcasting documentary, "The New Asylums," can be seen online.


jinglis said...

You are correct. And the Portland Phoenix (of which I'm the managing editor) has been the only publication that cares. Here are some highlights.

Lee Roberts said...

Thanks for the heads up jinglis. Lance Tapley was a family friend when my parents lived in Wiscasset about an eon ago. He was doing good work then and obviously continues today.

The pathetic coverage of the Okie trial and its implications is emblematic of the demise of investigative journalism. I'm grateful your paper is resisting the trend.

Thanks for stopping in.