National Journalist, Author to Discuss the Criminalization of Mental Illness

Sept. 14, 2010

Event: The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health presents a discussion on the criminalization of mental illness by nationally acclaimed journalist, bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Pete Earley.

When: 3-4 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21

Where: Legislative Conference Center, Room E2.002, Texas Capitol

Background: Earley will discuss why jails and prisons have become our new asylums, why this is wrong and what we need to do to turn mental illness back into a health issue instead of a criminal justice problem.

Earley's experiences with trying to help his son, Mike, who was denied treatment and arrested during a psychotic episode, became the basis for "Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness." The book tells two stories. The first is his son's. The second describes what he observed during a year-long investigation inside the Miami-Dade County jail, where he was given unrestricted access.

Since the publication of "Crazy," which refers to our mental health system and not to persons with mental illness, Earley has visited 46 states and three foreign countries advocating for mental health reform. He also was appointed to a criminal justice task force in Virginia to review and make recommendations about the state's mental health laws. The book has won several national awards and was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist for general nonfiction in 2007.

"I feel more passionately about this book than any I have ever written," said Earley. "Our nation's jails and prisons have become our new mental asylums. I wrote this book as a wake-up call to expose how persons with mental illness are ending up behind bars when what they need is help, not punishment."

For more information, contact: Merrell Foote, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, 512-471-9142 (office); 512-415-0408 (cell).

3 Comments to "National Journalist, Author to Discuss the Criminalization of Mental Illness"

1.  lisbeth jardine said on Sept. 14, 2010

One does not have to be especially mentally ill or actually imprisoned to feel criminalized for having required help for, say, having been depressed as a consequence of a series of setbacks, and turned away by a non-responsive, non-supportive family. Even the so-called "helping" professions, especially physicians, look upon one negatively once one is identified with label of "mental." Even the mental health professionals--it becomes such an us versus them situation that it's no wonder the "labeled" can never "recover"--oh, how I hate that word--how does one "recover" what one never had?

2.  prophetess D said on Sept. 14, 2010

One of the ironies of the situation for the mentally ill is that actually they are SAFER in jails than hospitals, because they are less likely to be drugged in jail than in hospitals, which drug everyone. And the drugs are toxic and cause mental illness; they don't cure it or improve it. People can pray better undrugged, and it is prayer that heals. The answer to this problem is NOT to put people back in hospitals: it is to get them OUT of the system and get them to churches that will help them and adopt them!

3.  rolf said on Sept. 14, 2010

I have a mental illness and for the future I hope that every government in this world understands that a personality disorder is a bad, bad disease. It's like cancer of the mind. I need more help from my government (Germany), but there is rarely help. I want to live to despite my illness, but it's hard without a good support.