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Author Topic: Prison System Is In Crisis  (Read 2317 times)

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Offline jaf

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Prison System Is In Crisis
« on: August 30, 2015, 06:33:20 AM »
By Stephen Elliott, selliott@qconline.com

ROCK ISLAND On a recent Monday morning, Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos checked the daily numbers at the county jail.

"We're at 276," he said. "So, we aren't at capacity (330 prisoners) yet, but we're getting pretty full."

Though a county jail's purpose is to hold prisoners awaiting trial and those serving sentences of less than a year, local lockups have problems in common with Illinois prisons, including people with substance abuse problems and mental illnesses.  

A lot of those people shouldn't be there, Sheriff Bustos said. "Frankly, the county jail is no place for a mentally ill person," he said. "But, we have them."

"It's a very frustrating thing," said Capt. Jeff Fisher, jail administrator. "We have inmates who can't take care of themselves. We've had officers hold them up in the shower so they can clean themselves.

"It's a sad state of affairs. It's frustrating. They may have committed a low-lying offense. Sometimes, there's not a lot of places to put them. With the state mental hospitals, people could go and stay for a long time.

"It's unbelievable how those services have been whittled down to almost nothing. We deal with it the best we can."

Sheriff Bustos said many of the challenges with the state's prison population parallel those at the county jail.

A July 1 report from Gov. Bruce Rauner's task force on reducing the state's prison population which has grown from 7,326 in 1970 to 48,921 at the end of 2014 said alternatives to incarceration will require a focus on community treatment programs, "particularly those involving substance abuse and mental health."

But Sheriff Bustos said,  "We don't have the space or frequency that's really going to help them out. We're not built for that. We're pre-trial detainers."

Dennis Duke, president of the Robert Young Center for Community Health, which serves about 11,000 clients in Rock Island and Mercer counties, said  the center uses tele-psychiatry at the jail and can determine the needs of an inmate.  It allows a psychiatrist or other health professional to provide medication management and evaluations.

"Unfortunately, the criminal justice system, or the jails, have become a housing unit for the mentally ill," Mr. Duke said.  "We have since implemented tele-psychiatry to take care of those psychiatric needs for patients. There's no longer the safety risk and cost associated with transporting them out here (to the center).

"Here in Rock Island County, on a limited basis, we see the patients or the inmates who have been identified having the highest needs.

"We're able to at least get them started on medications, or retain medications, so they can recover."

Fernando Rohwer, a mental health representative for Robert Young, works as a jail diversion coordinator. He visits the Rock Island County Jail daily.

"These people cannot get the proper treatment while incarcerated," Mr. Rohwer said. "Realistically, jail is not the best place."

Mary Petersen, chief operating officer for Robert Young, said the penal system is the largest provider of behavioral health care in the United States.

"That's a sad state of affairs," she said. "Right now, we have 700 outpatients in our community support program located in downtown Rock Island.

"Those were individuals that used to be homeless, they were in state hospitals, they've been turned out."

Gregg Johnson, a retired supervisor from the East Moline Correctional Center, has witnessed firsthand the problems of incarcerating those with mental health issues.

"One of the biggest shames in our country and our state was in the early '80s when we started closing the mental health facilities," Mr. Johnson said. "We were turning them out onto the streets and most ended up in the prison system.

"They have no business in the prison system, where you have a lot of manipulative individuals to encourage them to exhibit even more bizarre behaviors. That creates a lot of problems for staff.

"Thirty years ago in Illinois prisons, if we had a guy display mentally ill behavior, you could take him to the Menard psych unit or to the Dixon special treatment unit.

"At the end of my career, we couldn't get those guys transferred out anymore."

Mr. Johnson said with the number of inmates in Illinois prisons, treatment services become harder to provide. According to the July 1 report, there is a shortage of treatment slots for Illinois inmates with both substance abuse and mental health disorders.

"Years ago, we used to run med lines for 15 minutes a couple of times a day," he said. "Before I left, the med lines were 2, 2 hours. There are many inmates in adult facilities on psychotropic drugs that are used to modify their behavior.

"It's stunning to watch the number of inmates on maintenance medication to keep them at a manageable level.

"We need to find another way."

Sheriff Bustos agreed.

"Just warehousing people, that's part of the whole prison reform problem," the sheriff said. "People are just being warehoused and not being rehabilitated."

http://www.qconline.com/news/local/prison-system-is-in-crisis/article_80c47698-3a77-5eef-82ab-9e2d40117c46.html


 

Offline trauma4us

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Re: Prison System Is In Crisis
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2015, 07:44:28 AM »
So very true.  As a nurse practitioner, I see first hand how there is little to no help in the community.

My son took advantage of tele-health this week.  He was placed on an anti-depressant that he was having side effects from so he was refusing it for the last two months.    Now he's back on his other med and is doing well.  However it's in his record that he refused a med for two months.  No tickets, no problems nothing else.


Offline StayinTrue2Him

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Re: Prison System Is In Crisis
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2015, 12:46:00 PM »
So very true.  As a nurse practitioner, I see first hand how there is little to no help in the community.

My son took advantage of tele-health this week.  He was placed on an anti-depressant that he was having side effects from so he was refusing it for the last two months.    Now he's back on his other med and is doing well.  However it's in his record that he refused a med for two months.  No tickets, no problems nothing else.


What is tele-health,trauma4us? I just got off the phone with my fiance and he told me he had to wait in the bullpen for two hours again to get his scheduled anti-depressant meds...This has been a daily thing for months now,waiting sometimes for hours... :wc96:
"You are the missing piece I've been waiting all my life for.."

Offline trauma4us

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Re: Prison System Is In Crisis
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2015, 04:38:10 PM »
Due to the huge shortage of mental health providers in IDOC, Wexford (the contracted healthcare provider) does tele-health.  Its a skype-based internet appt with a psychiatrist, psychologist, specialist where the provider does not have to go to the inmate, they do everything over the internet.

It has really been very efficient and for simple med changes, it works very well.

I don't want anyone to think that this is preferable to in-person care, but you have to be realistic too and realize that this a cost-effective treatment option and is readily available in our community too: https://www.osfhealthcare.org/services/telehealth/

Offline poohbear3

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Re: Prison System Is In Crisis
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2015, 07:59:44 PM »
Well that sounds great, but what about he places that don't have that capability?  Like Menard?