Prisons were never designed as facilities for the mentally ill, yet that is one of their primary roles today. Many of our men and women who could not get mental health treatment in the community are swept into the criminal justice system after they commit a crime, and most return within the first year of probation and/or parole.
These circumstances lead to massively overcrowded prisons, and jails or hospitals with exhausted staff with little to no knowledge or experience in dealing with the mentally ill. This revolving door effect not only causes devastation within communities, but also destruction against humanity.
Nearly 650,000 people are released from America’s prisons each year returning to their communities needing treatment, housing, and employment. Most ex-offenders return home to some of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods with no hope and limited resources to help restart their lives.
The majority of ex-offenders have not completed high school or have little to no education. Nearly three quarters have a history of substance abuse and more than a third have a physical or mental disability.
Americans with Mental Illnesses
Between complex challenges and limited opportunities, recidivism becomes a tax-payer’s worst nightmare and prisons continue to be immeasurably overcrowded. The United States of America incarcerates more people than any other nation in the world. While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world's population, it houses around 22 percent of the world's prisoners.
Overall, the U.S. spends more than $60 billion a year on prisons and jails. It costs more than $23,000 a year to incarcerate a person in a Federal Bureau of Prison facility, approximately $3500 per year for probation and state prisons can run as high as $45,000 or more annually.
The National Institute of Mental Illness (NIMH) reported in 2010 that an estimated 7.9 million Americans suffer from schizophrenia, and severe bipolar disorder while 40% of the individuals with schizophrenia and 51% of those with sever bipolar disorder are untreated in any given year. These types of mental conditions do not just go away without treatment and rehabilitation.
Our mission is to eradicate recidivism of ex-offenders and develop a simple organized plan that will allow reduction in massively overcrowded Southern States prisons, jails and mental health hospitals including Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama with a focus on Texas by eliminating the factors that create criminal behavior.
How we do it?
- We provide and promote appropriate outpatient treatment for prison/ jail inmates with a focus on mental illness(s)(Target Southern States)(see map)
- We implement and encourage jail diversion programs between positive community leaders, Prison/Jail officials/ employees,state leaders, etc.
- We train and establish careful intake pre-screening that will allow help to those that are willing to work the program
- We manage and mandate release planning by cooperating and communicating with appropriate officials
- We help support effective rehabilitation programs by implementing a well maintained structural environment
When will we do it?
Development of an effective plan for reducing mass incarceration in our Southern States is here with high demands. The problem is certain to grow rapidly and out of control, while the number of individuals behind bars now includes more than 2.1 million men and women. The majority of them will eventually be released, but unless something changes really soon, more than half of them will re-enter into communities with no treatment and eventually return to back in jail or prison. This is especially true for individuals who, because of their mental illness, are unaware they are sick and refuse treatment and/or medications.
Paradise Independent Living’s commitment to collaboration is evidenced by measures already put in place. This plan reflects the coordinated efforts of both state and local agencies, community organizers and committed individuals working together toward the common goal of creating a statewide prisoner reentry strategy that addresses our Southern states unique challenges caused by geographical vastness and diversity.