Scapegoating a Form of Denial 

Please give a raise to Stephen Dark for publishing a well-written article [“Lost in the Hole,” Sept. 27, City Weekly] about the abuse and needless suffering of the mentally ill in prison. I volunteer with the Disability Law Center and am no stranger to this subject. The failure to properly treat the mentally ill behind bars costs the state millions of dollars in lost rehab potential.

Many who work in Corrections “outside the bars” have gone into public service because of their own unacknowledged wounds and therefore project their unacknowledged pain on the ill prisoners. Knowing that, the system needs to enhance public safety by offering prisoners humane treatment. Reduced suffering by prisoners means better prison outcomes.

It is a truism that there is little difference between the people on both sides of the bars. Offering Corrections staff education about their own psychodynamics will help prisoners. And while we are at it, let’s properly fund community mental-health care, thereby keeping people out of the prisons and saving millions in tax dollars.

Let’s see scapegoating of the mentally ill for what it is: a denial of the mental challenges faced by many in society.


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