Mental illness

Brian Turner via Flickr

Charles Longjaw had already admitted to a killing in Oregon and a rape in Washington.  Yet he was released from custody in 2015, and charged with committing another murder the next year. 

The situation comes back to the law under which he was found "guilty except for insanity."  GEI verdicts, as they are known, can lead to offenders being released despite predictions of danger. 

The non-profit news organization ProPublica uncovered issues with the law in a joint project with the Malheur Enterprise. 

AlexVan/Pixabay

We stopped the "warehousing" of people with mental illness years ago.  Or did we? 

The huge state hospitals with thousands of residents are generally gone, but our jail and prison population has boomed. 

And there's plenty of evidence that the two trends are related... like the fact that up to half of the people in lockup have psychiatric disorders. 

Journalist Alisa Roth researched the trends and the people they represent for her book  Insane: America's Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness

Wisconsin Blue Book, 1885

We've certainly changed a few things about our approach to mental illness. 

The days of gigantic state hospitals "warehousing" mental patients are generally behind us.  But what's replaced that system has issues of its own. 

Those are issues Ron Powers explores in his book Nobody Cares About Crazy People

It is history and current affairs, but also biography and memoir, because Powers had two sons who struggled with schizophrenia. 

Stand Against Stigma

It gets a little easier all the time to talk about suicide... on a general statistics-and-treatment level. 

Individual cases can still be extremely tricky, because of longstanding societal stigmas about suicidal thoughts and actions. 

Shasta County's mental health apparatus swung into action against the taboos, creating "Stand Against Stigma." 

The project features a number of people putting their faces and stories forward, letting the world know of their struggles with depression and other mental illness. 

April Dembosky/KQED

A non-profit that helps homeless people get back on their feet recently bought a historic hotel, right in the middle of downtown Fort Bragg, on California’s north coast. It plans to transform the Old Coast Hotel into a transitional housing facility and clinic. But a lot of locals want to resurrect the historic landmark as a tourist destination.