Image of Pinocchio turning into a Donkey Boy after falling under bad influences. He is imprisoned and made into a slave. - Image adapted from Walt Disney.
As cash-starved states slash mental health programs in communities and schools, they are increasingly relying on the juvenile corrections system to handle a generation of young offenders with psychiatric disorders. About two-thirds of the nation’s juvenile inmates — who numbered 92,854 in 2006, down from 107,000 in 1999 — have at least one mental illness, according to surveys of youth prisons, and are more in need of therapy than punishment.
“We’re seeing more and more mentally ill kids who couldn’t find community programs that were intensive enough to treat them,” said Joseph Penn, a child psychiatrist at the Texas Youth Commission. “Jails and juvenile justice facilities are the new asylums.”
At least 32 states cut their community mental health programs by an average of 5 percent this year and plan to double those budget reductions by 2010, according to a recent survey of state mental health offices.
Study after study after study after study has proved that nutrition is the key to mental health. Good nutrition helps the brain form and function correctly and can assist young persons in avoiding impulsive decisions that lead to unhappy outcomes. Why don't we act on that information and help these people?
Food and vitamins are inexpensive; drugs and incarceration are not.
Image: Modern "Panopticon"- style prison
Prisons are big business.
“Incarceration, Inc.,” by Sasha Abramsky, The Nation, July 19, 2004, 16 p.
Prisons thrive on cheap labor and the hunger of job-starved towns.
“The prison industry in the United States: big business or a new form of slavery?” by Vicky Pelaez, El Diario-La Prensa, New York, October 13, 2005, 7 p.
The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up.