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Plans for Class Action Lawsuit for Psychiatric Parity

Health & Wellness  (tags: PsychiatricParity, ClassActionLawsuitForDecriminalizingMent, AssistanceToTheIncarceratedMentallyIll, AIMI, MaryNeal, DogJustice )

- 3115 days ago -
Why should mental illness be the only chronic ailment treated legally, not medically? Put mental illness back in the health care system were it was before Reganomics delivered 1.25 million sick people to prisons and jails at zero savings to taxpayers.

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Mary Neal (183)
Tuesday November 10, 2009, 5:22 pm

NOTICE: Prisoner activists and mental health advocates are discussing a class action lawsuit by people incarcerated for mental illness or their relatives and next friends on their behalf. Mental illness is the only disability treated legally, not medically. If a diabetic man blacks out at the wheel and injures or kills commuters, he goes to the hospital. If a psychiatric patient kills or injures, he goes to prison. If a woman has a heart attack in the china store, falls and breaks plates, she goes to the hospital. If a bipolar sufferer has a crisis and breaks plates, she goes to prison. The suit will be for PSYCHIATRIC PARITY UNDER THE LAW. People who opt in will need to pay a nominal fee to help raise the legal retainer.

We will demand that mentally ill people who are imprisoned for violent offenses go to hospitals for their entire sentences and that nonviolent offenders are released under Kendra's law (mandatory treatment and subsistence assistance in their communities).

Making this change - decriminalizing mental illness - will save billions every year off America's prison budget by putting mental illness back into the health care system where it was before Reganomics. Taxpayers have not saved a dime by imprisoning our neighbors with mental illness, but many people have suffered inhumane prison sentences for having a common, treatable health condition. Treating mental illness is cheaper, more humane, and it promotes community safety. No longer will the mentally ill be left untreated until they PROVE (by smoking guns and dripping knives) to be a danger to self and others.

Half of U.S. inmates are mentally ill. In fact, there are 1.25 million incarcerated mental patients, so this will be a large class. Give me your thoughts. We're in the planning stage and talking with other prisoner activists. Invite friends who have mentally ill relatives who are or were imprisoned to eMail me at or call 770 559 4690.



No one can be PUNISHED into a state of mental health, and it is WRONG to try. Tell everyone to contact me who might have an interest in opting in on the class action lawsuit. Promote community safety, human and civil rights, and help the nation save billions off the prison budget. Decriminalize mental illness! Replace incarceration with treatment - it is the right thing to do.

Mary Neal
Assistance to the Incarcerated Mentally Ill


Judy Cross (83)
Tuesday November 10, 2009, 5:41 pm
I remember being told about Reagan shutting down mental hospitals in California and driving people into the street.

Within a few years, the same thing happened her in British Columbia.

Globalism at work even then. Creating chaos and more pain and suffering is something they like to do for the fun of it. I think they must "feed off the energy".

Mary Neal (183)
Tuesday November 10, 2009, 5:53 pm
Everyone thought it was awful what certain Pennsylvania judges did when it was revealed early this year: They choked off funds to public juvenile detention centers and channeled children into their buddies' private juvenile prisons in exchange for $2.6 million in kickbacks.

That is exactly what happened to America's mental patients in the 60's and 70's. Money for their care in inpatient facilities and community care was choked off, and now they are in prison! Many thousands were homeless in America after hospitals closed; some froze to death. The sick people had no concept of how to make it outside a controlled environment. Today, prisons have them and those in subsequent generations who should have received treatment.


Schizophrenic? Manic depressive? Autistic? PTSD? Drug addicted? Bipolar? Many people with those ailments are genuises. We probably have some fine mathematicians locked in prison, world class actors and actresses, singers, scientists, and plain Janes who don't belong behind bars for acting irrationally due to mental illness.

COME ON, AMERICA, WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS. Reganomics has not saved us one thin dime. Prison investors are happy, but many citizens are wrongly punished and some have died in restraint chairs and tables like Tim Sauders, Tasered to death, gassed, beaten by tough inmates and prison guards, had their sentences lengthened for not understanding or obeying prison rules, which costed taxpayers even more money than the $50,000 to $150,000 per year per imprisoned patient YOU ALREADY PAY.

Mary Neal (183)
Wednesday November 11, 2009, 6:48 am
If people could be punished into a state of mental health, mentally ill people would not have the highest rate of recidivism of all inmates. It is simply a money pit.

Mentally challenged people are the only sick Americans who go to prison because they displayed symptoms of their illness, and keep in mind that 2/3 of all prisoners were imprisoned for nonviolent offenses. They are subjected to cruel environments designed to PUNISH, like solitary confinement, gassing, Tasering, abuse by other inmates and guards, restraint chairs (which killed Sean LeVert) and restraint tables (which killed Tim Sauders), starvation (like Mr. Ray, who is suing because he was chained to a naked bed rail for 32 hours at a time and deprived of food and water for punishment), and other inhumane atrocities that sometimes kill (like Larry Neal, who may have been waterboarded behind bars. Whatever was done to kill my brother was so horrible, authorities refuse to say how he was murdered six years ago, despite open records laws). With the abuse, mental patients don't get better behind bars, but worse. Prison is stressful even for sane people. It is horrible for sick people, and I have no doubt some are much sicker at the end of their prison sentences.

When the mentally ill are finally released, it is often after having time added for offenses they did while inside (like Jeremy Smith, who faces extra sentencing for being insolent toward a guard. They called his schizophrenic ranting "terrorist threats.) No special provisions are usually made for their continued treatment (assuming they got any treatment behind bars. We pay for it, but they sometimes don't actually get treated). Furthermore, released prisoners may have no means of subsistence. Keep in mind that drug convictions in many states exempt a person from receiving food stamps and other entitlement program assistance. Numerous mentally ill people try to self-treat with street drugs, and that is what led to their arrests.

These sick parolees are therefore released on the community without any means of survival, stressed out, hungry, and mentally ill. This is not only inhumane for them, but it is dangerous for us in communities across America.

Imprisoning sick people only means the mentally ill are tortured for being sick, and taxpayers pay out mega bucks to be cruel to their sick loved ones and neighbors.


Winefred M (88)
Wednesday November 11, 2009, 9:49 am
That's a true saying dear Mary. There is still no kind of understanding of the mentally ill,sometimes I do ask myself if some psychiatrists themselves understands what's going on with the mentally ill. People can variate in psychiatric problems you cannot put none of the patients in one category some are more severe ill than the other.And that some patients do become violent is the lack of proper care and medicine.People that are mentally ill are seen by society as odd or off.Please don't get me wrong it's just my opinion and how I feel and experienced it.Once again people with psychiatric problems need the right care!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mary Neal (183)
Wednesday November 11, 2009, 10:27 am

Hello, Winefred. You are correct that there are different types and levels of mental illness, but prison does not solve any of them. What does happen is the mentally ill suffer, their families suffer, and community safety is compromised without any savings to taxpayers.

We can all recall news accounts of mentally ill persons being killed by police during lunacy arrests. This happened to Inman Morales, a New Yorker who stood naked on the balcony to his apartment in a bipolar crisis. Police Tasered Morales and caused him to fall to his death. Once arrested, they frequently suffer and some die. You probably recall reading about Frank Horton, who was incarcerated in Nashville's CCA facility, where he was kept naked in dark solitary confinement living in filth for nine months. He might have died in his own feces had it not been for a Good Samaritan prison guard who blew the whistle on his employers and had Horton rescued. My brother's circumstances of incarceration that killed him are still illegally withheld six years later.

In addition to cruelty during arrest attempts and while incarcerated, those released from inpatient facilities and prisons without treatment and subsistence provisions such as we advocate under Kendra's Law, sometimes do shocking crimes. Families who seek assistance with mentally ill loved ones are frequently turned away without help, saying the subject must PROVE to be a danger to self or others. Unfortunately, when that is proved by crimes, the mentally ill still are not treated in hospitals, but remanded to prison instead. It is wrong for greedy people to withhold treatment and care and wait for a chronic mental patient to commit murder resulting in life imprisonment, which generates about $4 million over the expected lifespan of a 30-year-old.

Thanks for your comments. We will continue to press for mental illness to be moved back to the health care system and away from the criminal justice arena.


Thanks for your comments!


Mary Neal (183)
Wednesday November 11, 2009, 12:40 pm
Many people advocate against prisoner abuse and object strongly to incarcerating mental patients. In my case, this advocacy is in obedience to Hebrews 13:3 and Matthew 25:40.

Consider the suffering of prisoners as though it were your own body.

Such as you do unto ONE of the least of these, My brethren, you do also unto me.

Mary Neal (183)
Wednesday November 11, 2009, 2:58 pm
Some commendable steps have been taken by the USDOJ recently to help with prison diversion and provide better oversight of parolees in certain areas who are leaving prison and have mental health issues and/or drug addictions. Also, 43 states have strenghtened their community care provisions. Cyrus Vance, who is running for D.A. for New York, has indicated that it is important to address the underlying causes of incarceration, not just punish people for criminal offenses. Therefore, there is evidence that the justice system is aware of the problems inherent in punishing rather than treating mental illness.

One problem is that reform is very slow. With 1.25 million mentally ill people in prison, many of them have very urgent problems. Too many are deteriorating in solitary confinement. Also, many states are experiencing economic crisis exacerbated by the crushing weight of their prison budgets. Decriminalizing mental illness could be accomplished across the nation quickly if psychiatric parity was law. Financial relief for states would be realized quickly, because non-violent offenders would be released to community care programs that mandate their continued treatment and provide for housing and food. This would mean a significant reduction to the $50,000 to $150,000 per year for incarceration that is presently being spent for each and every mentally ill inmate in most states.

The money saved by releasing the non-violent mentally ill offenders to community care could be used to build new facilities or refurbish closed mental hospitals for those patients who require secure, controlled environments because of violent offenses or if their reasoning is too deficient for them to survive in open society.

Therefore, changing from penalizing citizens for being sick to treating their illness would not cost taxpayers anything at all. In fact, after the cost of having inpatient facilities erected or renovated and modernized during the first year, the change will result in considerable savings for each state. This means more money would be available to spend on education, job programs, and other public services that are now struggling with shortages caused by our huge prison budget - $50 BILLION ANNUALLY.


Agnes H (144)
Wednesday November 11, 2009, 5:43 pm
Am I glad I don't live in America as I would have been in jail for thelast 40 years! I suffer from CHRONIC DEPRESSION and it gets so severe at times that I don't know what I'm doing! Nobody understands about depression and other mantally illnesses because they can't see anything wrong. When I was 18 I nearly killed a cousin of mine for what she did and it was the psychiatrist who stopped her from going to the police when he told her that I was very ill and probably won't even remember what I'd done. I only know this because my sisters told me what happened as all I remember of that day is someone standing behind me saying "Count to ten, count to ten" the rest of that day is a complete blank. I don't remember seeing our DR coming to see me or him asking my mother to call for the Psychiatrist. I don't remember seeing or talking to him! Sometimes my depression is not too bad and I can cope.
But there are times I've tried to kill myself because I can't put up with being in a state of mind nobody understands that I'm sick. In England I was in hospital for a year while my husband looked after our children and I was in hospital twice after that. Even here in Australia I've been in Hospital several times but now I'm classed as an invalid because I'm too sick to work and my husband is my carer as I'm not allowed to be on my own for any length of time in case I try to kill myself again or go on the alcohol as that has happened before. These aren't the only things that happened to me.
I've been interfered with by relatives, my father being one of them, and when my husband saw how my uncles were touching me up where I didn't like to be touched he said That's it we're not going to family parties again if that is all they can do! Honestly no one understood what I was and still am going through as they can't see it and I think that's why Mentally Ill people are so misunderstood! They can't see anything wrong with you. I'd rather break my leg over and over as they can see that!
I feel for the mentally ill in America if that is what the government can do with them and put them in jail and mistreat them? I can't understand why?
My illness isn't as bad as schytzoprenics and other illnesses. I have suffered from depression even before I had that major breakdown, but now I'm on medication, anti depressants and Valium for the anxiety that comes with the depression. I'm one of the lucky ones that I've got a husband and family who understand. With family I mean my own children, because my brothers and sisters haven't told their children what's wrong with me! They just know that auntie Agnes is very ill! That's all ! Nobody is allowed to know and it's not talked about by anyone.
What's so bad about it? I can'tremember what I do or what I say.
That's why I like Care2. I've got subjects I'm interested in and say what I think and believe in and am happy when someone gives me a green star. I tell Les, my husband, and he's happy for me as I get judged not for the illness but for what I believe in.
Last week we went to see my eldest son and his family and the first thing he said was" Mum your bad you're really sick again," He took us out and lend us his car when he had to go to work. We went Dolphin watching which was the highlight of my stay with him and my DR said this morning that I looked a bit better and happier and he said for how long is this going to last? I'm sorry but nobody knows! Nobody knows what brings the deep bouts of depression on! I don't!
So Mary I hope you win your fight against the system, that the Mentally ill get the help they need and won't be locked up in jail anymore. I truly believe and support your fight, but am I glad I don't live in America, without the help of my family I would have been in hospital for good, with Les at home looking after me that means one extra bed for someone who needs it more than I do.
I wish you all the best!

Sheila G (267)
Wednesday November 11, 2009, 5:50 pm
bless you Agnes!
and how ironic that RR dropped that specific healthcare. how many political officials would suffer if they were in the common system that the rest of us are in?

Mary Neal (183)
Wednesday November 11, 2009, 6:11 pm
Thanks for commenting, Sheila. Officials oftentimes don't know enough and some don't care enough about what their constituents face in their daily lives.

Agnes, I cannot thank you enough for sharing your personal experiences that are caused by manic depression. When people share their stories like you did, it helps us have more insight into the problems faced by people with mental illness. I am sorry some of your family members place stigmatize mental illness to the point that it cannot be openly discussed.

Every single family probably has one or several members who have mental illness to some degree, since the statistics for America indicate that 1 in 5 has that common, treatable health condition. Without treatment, many of these persons do indeed cross the line and do something that if they were not mentally ill, would be worthy of punishment. But as you pointed out, punishment for anything you did while in a crisis state would have deserved no punishment since you did not even remember what occurred the next day. Punishing people with years of cruel incarceration for acts done during a psychotic episode is equivalent to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to teach a 2-year-old a lesson for having a tantrum. The child does not really understand or recall what he/she did; therefore, the effort to punish at such great expense would be completely WASTED.

Bless you, and I am so happy for you that you live in Australia where you feel safe from being imprisoned for mental illness and that you have the support of a loving family. Many people are not blessed as you are, and I appreciate your speaking in their behalves.


. (0)
Thursday November 12, 2009, 6:56 am
Definitely needs to be put back into prospective.. and put back into the medical book... it is a costly chronic illness and one cannot carry this on their own

Mary Neal (183)
Thursday November 12, 2009, 8:00 am
Thank you, Chaz.

People who lack the money for long-term mental health care in a private facility or cannot pay for treatment by a psychiatrist or psychologist usually wind up going to prison. That is the sorry truth of the matter. No one who works for a living is able to pay for expensive psychiatric care in an inpatient facility or even as an outpatient for very long, even if they have a nice savings account. A slip-n-fall or car accident that results in a brain injury is all it would take to put any of us in the same situation as the incarcerated mentally ill are today. It is a blessing that Congress passed the mental health parity bill last year to give mental illness equity with physical illness as far as Medicare is concerned and some employee health plans, but that does not matter for everyone. And most employee insurance plans have term limits. If people are permanently brain damaged, they land in the same boat with indigent people.

A friend had a six-figure income, and due to a head injury sustained last September, she was unable to do her job any longer. She lost her house, spent her savings, and she even had a stroke and has slurred speech - a young woman. To top it off, she is facing the imminent possibility of jail. That is how easy it is.

Thanks, Chaz, for bringing up the subject of personal expense incurred by mental illness. Like any other chronic health condition, it is impossible for the average middle class person to afford good care unless their insurance covers it.

The 111th Congress gave us improvements in terms of insurance coverage for mental illness, and I certainly hope that any national health plan will also commit to treating mental illness equitably with physical illness. But no insurance protects a person from jail who acts erratically due to mental illness. That is why it is necessary to decriminalize this health condition.

Thanks for your comments and notes, Chaz and everyone!



Winefred M (88)
Friday November 13, 2009, 4:25 am
It's so true Agnes,most people don't understand the mentally ill,you are seen as a freek.Only those very close to you and some real good friends understand the problem.My son is schizophrenic and when you have someone in the family that has a mental disability everyone tends to see the rest of the family as contagious,that's my experience.And I do think that some of the folks in the health care office have that problem,it's the last thing you should cut down on, you only create more problems for your society.The government should at least know that.

Agnes H (144)
Saturday November 14, 2009, 3:08 am
Winefred I did answer to your comment but Care2 wouldn't print it and I don't know why!!

Mary Neal (183)
Saturday November 14, 2009, 4:33 am
Thanks Agnes. I received your comment as an email. I will post it for you.

Hi Mary it's me again. I just answered Chaz'comment and asked her to forward it to you but you brought the subject up here in your comment.
I'm classed as an invalid and my husband is my carer. Because I'm an invalid I get a pension AND help with payments for a lot of things and one of them are medications.

Here the DSS (Centrelink) pay a certain amount of your medication and when you reach a certain Bracket, amount of payments you made, you get your medications for free as Centrelink or The Government pays for it then. We reached that Bracket half March and have had our medications free since then.

However come January we have to pay again and that will hit the pocket as eventhough Centrelink pays an amount it's still expensive. So we're hoping that we'll hit the Bracket again pretty quick. I think you've got to pay between $5or$600 and then you can breathe again!

Unfortunately as an invalid you can't afford Private Insurance and even then they won't pay for existing illnesses so all our medication wouldn't be paid back to us anyway so all that money you pay them is for nothing!
Thank you for putting up with me and I hope all these little things will help you with your Lawsuit or whatever.



Mary Neal (183)
Saturday November 14, 2009, 4:45 am

Thanks for providing insight into how Austrailia helps citizens pay for mental health care, Agnes.

Thanks to Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-TX), Congress has an opportunity to pass H.R. 619. That is a bill to reinstate Medicaid insurance for inpatient mental health care in America. It was the withdrawal of that source that attributed to the closings of mental hospitals across the country. I hope that everyone will write their representatives and ask them to support H.R.619.

For outpatient treatment, AIMI supports assisted outpatient treatment programs that provide psychiatric treatment and subsistence assistance for persons exiting hospitals or prisons and those at risk for incarceration due to mental illness. It is much cheaper to treat mental illness than to punish people who have that condition.

Among Kendra's Law participants in New York, there was better than 90% reduction in incidents of arrest, hospitalization, homelessness, and incarceration compared to what they experienced prior to joining the assisted outpatient treatment program.

The decrease in arrests shows that less crimes were done, meaning that communities were safer.

The decrease in incarceration and hospitalization shows there was significant savings for taxpayers, since each inmate in New York costs $60,000 per year in the general inmate population, and a mental patient's incarceration is usually twice or three times the amount of regular incarceration.

The decrease in homelessness shows that Kendra's Law program participants were getting exactly the help they needed to live more wholesome lives.

Assisted outpatient treatment programs do not leave it up to the patient to decide whether or not to accept psychiatric treatment. It is a requirement. Therefore, the program participants experienced less psychotic crisis, because their care was continuous and did not depend on the patient to have the sense of reason to recognize their own need for treatment. That is what made the difference in Kendra's success rate.

Kendra's Law could save billions each year off America's prison budget and restroe many people to wholesome living. Write your representatives in favor of H.R.619 and AOT programs. That combination is the answer.


Ainsley Jo Phillips (250)
Saturday November 21, 2009, 12:58 pm
Mary! You're amazing! This is such a wonderful thing you're doing! One thing to also realize that--even in today's mental hospitals--the mentally-ill are having decisions made about treatment that aren't necessarily in their best interests and is commonly known to put a damper on their quality of life. Read Mad In America by Robert Whitaker.
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