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Apr 18, 2010

Media owners, will you PLEASE stop discriminating against mentally ill people?  When H.R. 3200 for national health care was on the table, the bill was discussed on every newscast for a year.  Newspaper reporters wrote about it, and broadcast journalists filled the airwaves with news about the national health care plan that EXCLUDES mental hospital coverage.  However, H.R.619, the bill that proposes resuming Medicaid coverage for psychiatric hospitalization, has received absolutely NO mainstream news coverage. If I were a media owner/prison investor, I would not want to make that fact so OBVIOUS.  Your bias is very blatant.  It discredits you as journalists, and lessens you as human beings to want to reserve sick people for prison so much that you outright ignore the best chance acute mental patients have to escape the revolving door in and out of prisons and jails.

It is estimated that 1 in 5 Americans has some form of mental illness.  It is wrong for the congressional bill that offers psychiatrically challenged people hospital insurance coverage to be omitted from news reports.  Do you presume to just ignore this important congressional bill?  In so doing, you renege on your responsibility to report news that affects many millions of Americans and has tremendous bearing on a number of social ills that affect the rest of the nation.  Where do mentally ill people go when they are in crisis?  Unfortunately, mental hospitals are steadily closing, and sick people are populating prisons in increasing numbers.  One major point of concern for people who CARE is that people are not generally taken to jail until AFTER some crime is committed.  Hospitals are useful for prevention of suicides and murders that sometimes occur from lack of timely treatment. 

Are you afraid that if mentally challenged Americans get the treatment they need, you would miss having gory news reports about sick people being Tasered to death by police during lunacy arrests or a mentally ill mother drowning all her children?  Is that why mainstream media fails to notify America that a congressional bill was introduced LAST JANUARY  - 15 months ago - that would reverse the bad decision to exempt mental hospitalization from Medicaid coverage?  That decision led to the MONSTEROUS prison rolls that America has now.  Approximately 1.25 million of the nation's 2.3 million inmates are mentally ill people.  They comprise 60% of those in solitary confinement, cruelly imprisoned in torturous conditions because they lack the mental stability to conduct themselves according to society's laws.  However, severe mental patients are frequently DENIED treatment that could have prevented the crimes that led to their arrests. 

IF Medicaid was removed as a funding source because officials thought decades ago that it would save money, that has certainly been proved wrong.  Prison costs rose to $50 billion per year in 2008, according to PEW.  When one factors in police services, court costs, lawyers for indigent defendants, and probation programs, the cost for crime and punishment is roughly $185 billion annually. And OVER HALF of the inmates going through that process REPEATEDLY are mentally ill people who cannot be punished or rehabilitated into a state of mental health. Therefore, resuming Medicaid so that sick people can be treated for their psychiatric issues and crimes prevented would save money and lives. 

Prisons are overcrowded.  Even mentally and physically sound people are dying from diseases that spread easily in such environments.  In 2007, eight California prisoners reportedly died of tooth decay when infection from rotten teeth entered their bloodstreams.  Some inmates say they are HUNGRY, because their meal portions are inadequate.  May I remind you that plenty of people in jail are there because they cannot make bail or no bond was set?  Therefore, they are innocent until found guilty in a court of law.  In view of the fact that around 500 convicted persons had their convictions overturned after DNA tests, new trials or hearings, there is every reason to believe that a significant number of prisoners may actually be innocent people.  Innocent or guilty, they all deserve human rights.  But so many are crowded into prisons now (because the mentally ill were added and do not belong there), that it is a strain to provide for their meals and health care. 

In addition to overcrowded conditions endangering the inmates' health, the prison budget is oppressive and prevents funding for other domestic programs, like education, public transportation, recreation and jobs programs - things that could help reduce crime and prevent more incarcerations.  If the mentally ill were treated in hospitals and community care programs instead of criminalized for their chronic health conditions, many of them would be stabilized sufficiently to return to wholesome lives and become taxpayers rather than tax burdens.  Therefore, some of the billions that are now being used to imprison them would become available for wiser investments during these lean days in our economy. 

If mental illness is not decriminalized and moved back to the health care system where it should have remained in the first place, prison costs will grow even more for several reasons:  1) mental stress builds during economic downturns; 2) around 54% of veterans transitioning home after combat duty may have PTSD; and 3) recidivism is higher among the mentally ill, many of whom left prison in worse mental states than when they arrived  Jail is not a soothing, healing environment for mentally ill people, even if they receive treatment while incarcerated.

U.S. Census reported in 2000 our population was 309,090,174 people.  If 1 in 5 were mentally ill, that means we had 61,818,035 sick people. ten years ago.  Each of the people who needs hospital coverage for mental illness likely has four people who care about them and would never want to see them imprisoned for having a heath crisis.  That means mental health insurance coverage affects all 309,090,174 people, because most of us have a friend or relative who wrestles with depression, substance abuse problems, and more severe conditions like bipolar disorder, PTSD, and schizophrenia. 

What possible excuse could mainstream media have to omit reporting about a bill that has such significance during a time when health coverage is the dominate topic on every newscast and in every single newspaper you published?  That has to be deliberate exclusion and censorship, and I demand that you stop it right now.  Furthermore, the American public should demand it with me and boycott your news reports and newspapers until you at least pretend to care about Americans with mental disabilities.  Please report that we have an opportunity before us to decriminalize mental illness and turn around many other problems by doing so.  Moreover, respect your customers who may not care about mental health care bills but rely on you for complete news coverage.

Below is a report on H.R.619's mainstream news coverage from January 21, 2009 until today - ZERO.  That is obvious prejudice and dereliction of duty.  Are you afraid that fully-informed Americans will support H.R.619, as they should?  Even if you do not editorialize in favor of H.R.619, at least let people know that it exists.  You have not even done that.  Everyone who calls himself a journalist should be ashamed.  Please improve.  We cannot afford to postpone addressing such problems.  People are suffering and dying needlessly, and prison costs are choking the nation.

**************
OpenCongress.org
Recent News Coverage for H.R.619
Introduced by Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-TX) on January 21, 2009
http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h619/show
April 17, 2010

H.R.619 - To amend title XIX of the Social Security Act to remove the exclusion from medical assistance under the Medicaid Program of items and services for patients in an institution for mental diseases.

Hmmmm, no news coverage found for this bill at this time. This means that this this bill has not yet been mentioned on a publicly-searchable news website by either its official number (for example, "H.R.3200") or title (for example, "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009"). As soon as that changes, our daily automated search across the Web will catch it and include it here. If this bill is of interest to you, you can write a letter to the editor referring to this bill by name, and if your letter is published on the Web, a link back your letter will appear here within about one day. Or, if you know of a news article about this bill to display here, email us the web address of this page and the web address of your suggested news article: writeus@opencongress.org Our editorial team will post relevant links as quickly as possible. Thanks for helping to build public knowledge about Congress.

Mary Neal
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill
http://www.Care2.com/c2c/group/AIMI

Such as you have done unto ONE of the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto me. ~JESUS CHRIST

Mar 27, 2010

Yes, you can make a difference!

Exciting news to report! We have a congressional bill to support that will help decriminalize mental illness in America!  A life is a terrible thing to waste.

Please VOTE for H.R.619 to replace prisons w/ hospitals for acute mental patients. The link below will take you to OpenCongress.org where you can use your voice to say to our elected officials, “We care about the least of these, His brethren: naked, sick prisoners.” (Matt.25:36) http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h619/show

Please agree that millions of citizens should not be left imprisoned or live under the threat of prison because their health care needs are not addressed.  Support H.R.619: Medicaid funding for psychiatric hospitals instead of prison cells for mentally challenged people – a change that will save money and restore lives!

Thanks in advance for voting. Please invite others!

H.R. 619 gives us the opportunity to
end discrimination against mentally ill citizens. Families of acute patients watch loved ones spiral downward mentally from lack of treatment until many of them eventually wind up homeless, imprisoned (sometimes after avoidable atrocities), or dead.  Please tell your representatives we want mental hospitals, which are important for community safety, reducing prison costs, and protecting human rights. 

As we go about our lives, there are 1.25 million mental patients imprisoned, some of whom have no criminal charges but were arrested on lunacy warrants.  Others have done horrible crimes because they could not get the psychiatric treatment they needed.  There is a simple song we sang in my old, wooden Methodist church when I was a child that seems to apply to the 1 in 5 Americans who have mental illness - "Do Not Pass Me By."  Below is my tweet to the 111th Congress today:

@cxs Mentally ill citizens sing fr prison "Please don't pass me by" 4 #health care. Pass H.R.619 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQ-f4c9Zh_U

Treatment Advocacy Center, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and numerous other mental health organizations and advocates support H.R.619.  NAMI's letter of support is at this link:  http://www.care2.com/c2c/share/detail/1405992

Most congressional bills never reach the House floor for a vote, but die in committees.  H.R.619 was introduced on January 21, 2009, and it is still being reviewed by committees.  Your help is needed.  So far, the bill that could decriminalize mental illness in America has gotten no major news coverage although over half the inmates in facilities across the country are mentally ill. To learn more about the negative impact that criminalizing mental illness has on society and individual people, you are invited to visit the website below.   Thanks for your interest in helping the least of these, His brethren!

Mary Neal
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill
http://www.Care2.com/c2c/group/AIMI
P.O. Box 153, Redan, GA 30074

JAIL IS THE LAST THING THAT MENTAL
PATIENTS NEED, AND TOO OFTEN, IT IS THE VERY LAST THING THEY
EXPERIENCE. Please join our effort to decriminalize mental illness. No
one deserves to be punished for having a disability.

Mar 11, 2010
Please help us to identify candidates in each state who care about decriminalizing mental illness and support H.R. 619 - the bill that can help replace prisons with treatment for Americans with mental disabilities.  Simply copy/paste the two paragraphs below into your emails when you respond to your candidates for election or re-election.  Then let us know who responds that they support human/civil rights for the least of these, His brethren so that we can also support them.  Thanks in advance!
***********************

PLEASE SUPPORT H.R.619 - A BILL BY REP. JOHNSON (D-TX-30) TO RESUME MEDICAID FUNDING FOR INPATIENT PSYCHIATRIC CARE, WHICH ENDED DECADES AGO AND EVENTUALLY DELIVERED 1.25 MILLION SICK PEOPLE INTO THE PRISON SYSTEM.  THAT MEANS AT LEAST 10,000,000 SICK PEOPLE AND FAMILY MEMBERS NEED YOUR HELP.  NAMI's 250,000 members support the bill and AIMI supports the bill.  In fact, most human and civil rights orgs that deal with mental health care issues do.  See what it is like for sick people and their family members at this link: 
http://freespeakblog.blogspot.com/2010/02/help-danielle-save-her-schizophrenic.html 

THANKS IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP IN REDUCING AMERICA'S CRUSHING PRISON BUDGET WHILE JOINING US IN PROMOTING HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS FOR AMERICANS WITH MENTAL DISABILITIES.  PLEASE LET US KNOW WHERE YOU STAND REGARDING TREATMENT VS. PRISON FOR MENTALLY ILL AMERICANS SO THAT WE CAN DECLARE OUR SUPPORT FOR YOU.
Mary Neal
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill

 

 
 
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.

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Mary Neal
, 5, 2 children
Atlanta, GA, USA
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