Letters: Treat the mentally ill, don’t jail them

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Re “The mentally ill in our jails,” Editorial, Oct. 15

Los Angeles County can easily reduce its jail population by implementing Laura’s Law and discharging eligible mentally ill inmates to assisted outpatient treatment. Laura’s Law provides mandatory monitored treatment for people with mental illness while they live in the community.

L.A. County’s pilot program has reduced incarceration by 78% among participants. It’s time to move from pilot to full-scale implementation and determine which jail inmates should be enrolled.

The county has the means to solve the problem; what’s lacking is the will.

D.J. Jaffe


New York

The writer is the executive director of Mental Illness Policy Org.

Mentally ill citizens have become modern-day vagabonds who are abandoned to drift with no place to call home. They suffer from manic depression, schizophrenia and related diseases.

The research showing that these are in reality biological brain diseases has not been heard or understood by society. We must treat the mentally ill as the unlucky sick they are.

Community care has been iffy, with many failures; still, there are ways for it to work. We must use the knowledge we gleaned from the few successful programs like Assertive Community Treatment and establish more “clubhouses” like New York City’s Fountain House. Both have been successful in helping the mentally ill function in the community and stay out of jail.

With appropriate oversight in every community program, we can keep the sick safe until we fund the scientific research that can rid the world of these diseases.


June Conway Beeby

Kingston, Canada


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