Monday, July 18, 2005

The reason the Richmond recommendations failed

Callan Park NSW

The reason the Richmond recommendations failed is because the supported community accommodation and therapeutic programs that were envisaged as replacing the nut houses were never funded, unlike in the Scandinavian countries Richmond studied during his inquiry and which have had a very successful experience of psychiatric deinstitutionalisation.

Whether you keep people designated 'mentally ill' bombed out on zombie pills in prisons, locked hospital wards, secure psychiatric institutions or immigration detention centres you are writing a blank cheque for their abuse.

I suspect that most victims don't particularly distinguish between the type of institutions that abuse them or whether they should be calling their abusers 'doctor' or 'warden'.

Philip Mitchell's suggestion that moving the Long Bay loonie bin less than 100 metres will somehow make a difference to the treatment of forensic prisoners is ludicrous.

As Mark Brown of Melbourne Uni points out in 'We are neutral therapists', prison psychiatrists and psychologists are at least as abusive towards their charges as are prison officers.

If "the 1980s were ... a different kind of community" its because now Big Pharma is a much more powerful and organised lobby group than it was then. Because antipsychotics are used primarily to control patients - not treat mental illness - the drug companies have a major interest in keeping as many people in institutions and 'managed' with their pills as possible.

Those companies also fund the organisations and research projects.

Drug company funding is also behind the resurgence in the utterly debunked tabloid portrayal of the mentally ill as dangerous that is exploited them.

There are about 2000 murders in Australia over six years so if only 30 (1.5%) are committed by the mentally ill - who make up at least 5% of the population - that suggests that the mentally ill are less than one third as likely as the healthy to kill someone.

Studies on schizophrenia and violent offending fail to control for the way the legal culture interacts with these sorts of offences.

If you are up on charges and mentally ill you are less likely to mount a competent defence and more likely to be convicted.

If you do *not* have a pre-existing diagnosis of mental illness you are more likely to end up with one if you are up on violent offence charges - especially if you let your lawyer run your case.

Lets not forget that it was a NSW psychiatric hospital that Cornelia Rau was running from when she ended up in Baxter.

To the psychiatric industry, the problem isn't that Ms Rau found it so abusive that she needed to run from it, but rather that she was able to escape.

She must be very grateful to Bob Ellis for busting her out of Glenside instead of just exploiting her situation for his own narrow agenda as everyone else seems determined to do.

More emergency mental health beds? Sure. We need more emergency beds of all kinds in our health system.

What we *don't* need is an extension of the mental health gulag that already keeps far too many Australians out of sight and bombed out of their minds.

Some people want to remain anonymous

The federal attorney-general has suggested that two women wrongfully detained by the Immigration Department could have avoided being locked up if they had cooperated more with authorities.

By Reader Posted 18 July 05


Time to get mentally ill out of jails
The psychiatrists are demanding a radical review of mental healthcare, claiming prisons have replaced asylums as holding centres for the mentally ill.

The New Asylums
US: Fewer than 55,000 Americans currently receive treatment in psychiatric hospitals. Meanwhile, almost 10 times that number -- nearly 500,000 -- mentally ill men and women are serving time in U.S. jails and prisons.

Nearly 500,000 mentally ill men and women are now locked up in America's jails and prisons. That's 10 times the number who remain in its psychiatric hospitals.

Submission to Senate: Inquiry into Mental Health 2005
We appreciate that the urgent issues of Human Rights and other abuses including institutionalisation and the use of force, and the lack of progress on Burdekin are being examined by the Committee.

Mental Treatment and Pharmacy Profit $$$$$
Mentally ill patients are being kept in solitary confinement within maximum security NSW prisons as punishment, against the most basic principles of human rights law.

'Killing Rational' and Prisoner Control in NSW
Dear Justice Action, I'm writing to you regarding xxxx, he has rung me a few times in the past weeks and has been drugged to the max, he rang today twice and could hardly speak to me, he said he was going to ring you and talk to you about it but he couldn't so I told him I would get in contact with you and see what you could do! He has told them he doesn't want the sedatives but they hold him down and give it to him anyway, they have drugged him 4 times in the last 2 days he said.

Mental Health Tribunal recommendations on forensic inmates
Below is the answer we have received from the Minister for Health regarding prisoners recommended for parole or release by the Mental Health Tribunal FYI

Death in custody: In memory of Scott Simpson
Scott Simpson 34 died in custody on 7 June 2004 leaving behind one child. It is alleged that he hanged himself in a segregation yard at Long Bay Prison Complex. Justice Action has reasons to believe that Scott had been mistreated from the time he was taken into custody and the subsequent events that ensued that led to his sad death. We think that his treatment may well have caused his death.

Doctor Ron Woodham I presume?
"Corrections Health staff provide medical care. However, its staff's authority is essentially limited to making recommendations to corrective services on treatment. Corrective services staff can then decide what treatment can be given."

Isolation, psychiatric treatment and prisoner' control
The 2003 NSW Corrections Health Service (now Justice Health) Report on Mental Illness Among NSW Prisoners states that the 12 month prevalence of any psychiatric disorder in prison is 74%, compared to 22% in the general community, and while this includes substance disorder the high rate cannot be attributed to that alone.

Call for royal commission into NSW prison health system
Mr Tony Ross a social justice activist said yesterday that a royal commission into the health system in NSW should be wide reaching to ensure that the Corrections Health Service is also exposed because of reported widespread cover ups in the prisons health system.

Watchdogs slaughtered in NSW
On Tuesday the Carr Government reduced transparency and accountability yet again and New South Wales is in danger of becoming entrenched with cronyism and intimidations with the Carr Labor Government that continues to slaughter the watchdogs.

Escape proof but not so the prisoners mind
Fewer prisoners escape from prison these days because they're "cemented in" by materials that do not break and by legislation that can keep prisoners in jail until they die.

Carr's Castle the real story H.R.M.U.The High Risk Management Unit Goulburn Correctional Centre. A prisoner writes, " I was unsuccessful in my letters to Dr Matthews CEO of the Corrections Health Service on my problem regarding air - claustrophobic effect the cells have on me. Just recently the management decided my injuries are not seriously affecting me so no further discussions are necessary.

Risdon prisoners' seize prison to protest mistreatment
Apparently one prisoner had been mistreated and held in isolation in an SHU (Segregation Housing Unit) [Solitary Confinement] because, he'd had and altercation with a screw. SHUs cause severe mental harm - regarded as torture - and are a cruel, inhumane and degrading way to keep prisoners.

No Safe Place
In a brief four month span from August 1999, five men died in Tasmania's Risdon prison. Their deaths have put the state's corrections system in the dock and led to the planned demolition of a jail which even the State's Attorney-General now calls an "appalling facility".

Association for the Prevention of Torture
The Optional Protocol requires 20 ratifications to enter into force. All States Parties to the UN Convention against Torture should seriously consider ratifying the OPCAT as soon as possible. National Institutions and others promoting the human rights of people deprived of their liberty need to be informed of their potential role as national preventive mechanisms under the OPCAT.

Corrected or Corrupted
A psychiatrist from the prison Mental Health Team attached to Queensland Health made the comment that 25 per cent of inmates suffer from a diagnosed mental illness.

ICOPA XI International Conference on Penal Abolition
We are excited to announce that ICOPA X1, the eleventh International Conference on Penal Abolition will happen in Tasmania, Australia from February 9 - 11,2006. Please pass this onto all networks.

Ex-Prisoner Locked Out of Prison
The NSW Department of Corrective Services (DCS) has revealed a policy which bans ex-prisoners from entering prisons.

Justice Action: Access to our community
NSW: Justice Action went to the NSW Supreme Court before the last Federal election on the constitutional right for prisoners to receive information for their vote. The government avoided the hearing by bringing prisoners' mobile polling booths forward. We pursued it after the election. This is the report.

Overhaul Department of Justice: Reform Group
WA: The Prison Reform Group of WA is calling for a complete overhaul of the Department of Justice following recent events which have compromised its integrity, placing prison staff, prisoners, their families and the community, at risk. We call for the Minister to publicly apologise for last week's debacle which has seen the public badly let down by the Department of Justice yet again.

Detention Centres, Solitary Confinement
On Friday night the NSW Council for Civil Liberties awarded Sydney solicitor John Marsden honorary life membership. Julian Burnside was invited to make the speech in Marsden's honour. In the course of his speech, Burnside referred to the unregulated use of solitary confinement in Australia's immigration detention centres, criticising it as inhumane and also as unlawful.

2nd Renaissance - Beyond Industrial Capitalism and Nation States Some Practicalities Of Emptying The Prisons [287] Given the importance that prisons and punishment have in maintaining control of increasingly restless populations, the task of achieving the release of the people in the jails and the closure of those institutions, seems daunting. But it is so vital to the 2nd Renaissance that we must find ways to do it.