Keep Prison Where It Is
The Prison Relocation Commission's recommendation to move the Utah State Prison to Salt Lake City is completely outrageous. It should remain exactly where it is and undergo an extensive renovation. Moving the prison so greedy developers can plunder the land is simply asinine. Does Draper really need yet another office park, strip mall or subdivision of bland stucco houses? I think not!
Salt Lake City is, in many ways, the crown jewel of our great state. It is a veritable cultural oasis brimming with life. Our city does not deserve to be tarnished by the presence of a prison. I urge Gov. Gary Herbert to put his foot down and do what's right for the people, not the corporations.
Ryan D. Curtis
Salt Lake City
Don't Let Anti-Psych Groups Derail Bill
The bipartisan Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, HR2646, introduced in June by Reps. Tim Murphy, R-Penn., and Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, has come under attack. The purpose of the legislation is to resolve a number of problems within our health-care system, particularly for the treatment of America's seriously mentally ill. The measures within this legislation would effectively improve treatment and outcomes for those with severe brain diseases, ultimately resulting in a significant reduction in homelessness and incarcerations.
But various groups, agencies and organizations are trying to halt the entire bill or have a number of crucial measures removed or watered down.
There are anti-psychiatry and anti-psychology groups intervening to halt any and all efforts to correct our failed system. There are also anti-science and anti-pharmaceutical groups who, rather than accepting empirical studies of evidence-based treatment, maintain faith in pseudo-scientific therapies for severe mental illness (SMI). Such faith is often based on mere anecdotal stories by the herbal-supplement industry, the mistaken notion that diet and nutrition alone is the cure-all to everything.
Perhaps the most disconcerting opposition, however, is from the agencies and organizations whose purpose is or should be to care for and treat the seriously mentally ill.
Some of these mental-health agencies, along with many of my fellow Democrats, are opposing such crucial measures as assisted outpatient treatment (AOT), which refers to court-ordered treatment. Evidence has shown this to be the only way to effectively treat the most seriously mentally ill with psychosis and anosognosia. Yet misguided civil-rights laws to protect the seriously mentally ill continue to be upheld as justification to allow those incapable of making an informed decision about their treatment from receiving critical care.
Some of these agencies also favor mental-health reform that benefits the 25 percent to 40 percent or so of the population who might need various services from time to time to deal with such issues as personal stress. Other agencies might place all or most of their focus on reducing stigma, peer support groups and educating about work-related stress. These agencies prefer to manage the easy-to-treat. While these goals are admirable, these agencies are often funneling and misusing funds that were intended for treatment of the seriously mentally ill. As a result, such organizations have strongly objected to measures in the legislation that would require oversight.
In doing so, these agencies deplete the extremely limited resources intended to serve the critical needs of those with the most severe brain diseases, who are the most underserved. In light of daily tragedies occurring across the country and the severity of the various problems associated with serious mental illness and our ineffective mental-health-care system, it is imperative legislators co-sponsor and advance this legislation—and keep the measures within fully intact.