A class action suit was recently submitted against the state health department for allowing about 280 mentally-ill inmates to stay in Texas jails, particularly in Travis County Texas and Dallas County Texas, without getting proper treatment and how it seriously violates the patients’ US constitutional rights. The mental condition of these inmates only surfaced to the public after a series of trials unable to proceed as the inmates are declared as unfit to stand trial due to the illness.
The lawsuit stipulated that these individuals are deprived of proper care with their medical condition as jails are not properly trained to handle their cases appropriately. The lawsuit also mentioned that the reason why these people stay in jails is due to the scarcity of available bed in mental hospitals. Due to the inadequate support that is given to them, their condition becomes worse.
Many advocates of human rights such as The Center for American Progress, The Public Citizen, and The Treatment Advocacy Center relayed their dismay with the US government giving utmost importance to criminal cases of the country and leaving the public mental health care behind. They further stated that federal and state jails and prisons hold approximately thrice as much as the number being admitted in mental institutions.
On the flip side, jail guards and staff were also caught in the line of fire of this sensational issue, and it is ultimately unfair for them to be blamed for this crisis. These employees are not trained to support mentally-ill individuals, but to support mentally-fit inmates only. Jail guards and staff are believed to be silently struggling to cope up as well with the mental health support inadequacy that is currently happening. It is regrettably shameful for the public to depend on US public mental health issue to the criminal justice unit, besides being excessively costly. The Center for American Progress exposed that jailing a person with mental sickness costs a whopping $50,000 annually, making the US government spend on a program that doesn’t really hit the nail on the head.
Aside from the fact that these patients are being deprived of their constitutional rights to be taken cared of by the government, the stigma it brings to anyone battling with mental illness becomes worse to worst these days. Federal and state government should face this crisis and better check on how to properly fund the public mental health system as soon as possible.
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