Texas Jail Project vision for 2050…
“Callous and Cruel: Use of Force Against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons” is a report from Human Rights Watch that reveals the reality of attitudes in jails toward mentally ill prisoners.
This study confirms what families and former inmates of Texas county jails have been describing to us for years. The spectrum ranges from ridiculing, taunting and encouraging people to commit suicide—to actual beatings, tasings and use of restraint chairs for days on end. Part of the reason is that many jailers are not being trained in what mental illness is and how people with mental disorders should be treated. But as HRW points out, It’s not just a few rogue officers at the bottom.
The attitude and practices often go all the way up the chain of command.
So in 2050, Texas Jail Project would like to see people with mental illness (which often co-occurs with addiction) out of the jails and into regional centers staffed by trained professionals in mental disorders and substance abuse. Whether charged with a crime or not. If their status is unknown, but they demonstrate symptoms, they will first go for evaluation to a center, before ever being incarcerated in a jail. Because at this point, the criminal justice system involved in jails is just that—criminal mistreatment of human beings who are suffering from real illnesses.