No matter how much I try, or how many writing prompts or exercises I try, I just can’t seem to write these days. A lot of people suggest to, “write what you know.” Well, sometimes what I know just gets kind of boring. It feels redundant. How many posts can I write about what I’m feeling like today, or what the symptoms of bipolar disorder are, or life with eating disorders is like. I’m sure that others find some of the post full of useful information, but, sometimes I just can’t really write about the same old reliable stuff. I think that what I need right now is something a bit different. It might be time for a bit of a twist; write what I know, but want to know MORE about.
There are many issues and topics that I could write more about, but are they topics and things that other Hot Messers want to hear about? Or that they also have experienced? Women with mental health issues in the criminal justice system seems like a good place to start. Let’s see:
Mental Health Issue. Check.
Criminal Justice System. Ummm…..
*turns red, stares at the ground, shifts weight awkwardly from one leg to the other, looks up to the sky, then boldly proclaims..*
Wait, knowledge of the criminal justice system? Because I have a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies, or experience IN the actual SYSTEM? Wait. I guess it really doesn’t matter because those are all checks too.
Now, if I have experience or knowledge in all of those, what is there to learn more about? A whole hell of a lot!!! Thanks to the whole “deinstitutionalization” movement that began after World War II, a plethora of issues blossomed from that.
What is deinstitutionalization? I’m glad you asked. (And if you didn’t, sorry, too bad, I’m going to explain anyway *smiles an overly obnoxious toothy ear to ear grin*).
In the ’50’s, after World War II, a large number of patients (and by large, we are talking thousands) were released from the mental health hospitals back into the community because advances in mental health therapies and medications seemed to be managing their mental illnesses without having to be hospitalized and monitored around the clock. This happened in several different “waves,” and by 1984, three quarters of the amount of patients who would be deinstitutionalized were done by that date.
I’m not just referring to women, but men as well. Yes, the topic I am writing about is women in the criminal justice system, but first, to get a bit of an understanding about that, we need to rewind and head back to the late ’50’s/early ’60’s when a male, or female, who had a mental health issue was no longer treated in one of the many state mental hospitals across the U.S. because the institutions had been shut down, so the fate of where ,and how, those with mental health issues were treated. The jails then began to fill up with people with mental health issues who had no place else to go; there were no more psych facilities, they were homeless, they couldn’t afford treatment and so the jails and psych services provided by them were the only option. I am from Chicago and currently the #1 largest psychiatric facility is NOT one in the “Medical District” (consisting of University of Illinois Chicago, and Rush University), or Northwestern University of University of Chicago, but instead the #1 facility is just a bit south of those places at 26th and California. Cook County Jail. Out of all those top notch medical facilities, the #1 psychiatric facility is a jail.
This fact continues to blow my mind every time that I see . I can’t help but want to continue to research this and find more information about this and continue to do a few posts for you guys about this as well.
Do you guys have any questions about deinstitutionalization or police and the mentally ill? I do plan to do a more detailed post about deinstitutionalization, so you can count on that, and I will do a few others about these topics (but I will put some others in between so you have a variety). Feel free to comment below or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook or Twitter!