Stephen R. Gianelli, the attorney who has been monitoring the Kelley Lynch harassment case (see Jury Finds Kelley Lynch Guilty Of Harassing Leonard Cohen) offers more information about the facility where Lynch is now housed in the form of an NPR article: What Is The Role Of Jails In Treating The Mentally Ill? by NPR Staff. Photo by Damian Dovarganes. September 15, 2013
I’ve included excerpts below but the article is best read in its entirety:
The county’s Twin Towers Correctional Facility in downtown Los Angeles is a hulking, massive concrete structure. It is also part of the largest municipal jail system in the United States.
…”Here within Twin Towers, we house approximately 3,900 inmates. A majority of those inmates are deemed mentally ill,” says Lt. Joseph Badali, a supervisor with the Sheriff’s Department.
The United States incarcerates hundreds of thousands of inmates suffering from mental illness, and jails and prisons are struggling to provide for inmates with severe mental health needs.
…L.A. County is not unique. In fact, it is far from it. Experts say good numbers are hard to come by, but one estimate calculates there are about 2.1 million annual bookings of persons with serious mental illnesses into jails. That number swells when you count state and federal prisons.
At one time, huge state hospitals housed the mentally ill. When they closed in the 1970s, community-based care was supposed to step in. Instead, with fewer options, the mentally ill were released to the streets, where they often got into trouble. Jails have to take mentally ill offenders in, but they can’t force medication.
…”In many ways, we are a hospital,” says Hough, the psychiatrist. “What brought them into the system was an alleged crime, and we certainly at the Department of Mental Health are not here to judge that. But while they are here and they suffer from a mental illness, we will provide care.”
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