Eric Westervelt, WNPR, February 25
New inmates with a mental illness arrive daily in the LA County jail system. It now holds more than 5,000 inmates with a mental illness who’ve had run-ins with the law. “When I started in 2013, mentally ill inmates were only housed on the seventh floor and the sixth floor right below it,” LA Sheriff’s Capt. Tania Plunkett says. “To date, the entire facility consists of mentally ill inmates.” Across the country, there are dozens of places like Los Angeles’ Twin Towers, warehousing people in settings with inadequate staff, services and support. It’s a culmination of decades of policies affecting those with a mental illness. Many of the nation’s asylums and hospitals were closed over the past 60-plus years — some horrific places that needed to be shuttered, others emptied to cut costs. The idea was that they’d be replaced with community-based mental health care and supportive services. That didn’t happen.
Brianna Ehley, Politico, February 20
Marc Young has been jailed three times since his 18th birthday and was homeless for most of last year. He spent much of his childhood in treatment centers, often far from home, and he struggles with developmental disabilities, aggressive behavior and mental health challenges. Unlike the high profile attempts to address opioids, fetal alcohol syndrome and the broader issue of alcoholism have few champions. Public health officials cite numerous reasons for American’s forgotten addiction crisis, including the intense stigma around expectant mothers who drink, as well as the fact that alcohol itself is legal, socially acceptable and widely used. There’s no adequate treatment for fetal alcohol syndrome; there’s not even a consensus among doctors on how to diagnose the condition that’s almost certainly underreported.