tv Ali Velshi on Target Al Jazeera August 1, 2015 1:30am-2:01am EDT
institution near oklahoma city, making him the first sitting president to visit a federal prison. the bill will go before congress with provisions expected to include early release for prisoners participating in job training and drug treatment programs while in federal prisons, and america's local and state prisons and gaols in need of reform too. in particular, something needs to be done about the surging numbers of mentally ill cycling in and out of incarceration. according to the national institutes of health, one out of every 17 adults in the country lives with a serious mental illness, chances are you will not find them in a proper treatment facility, they are likely to be found in new asylums - i'm talking about emergency rooms, homeless shelters and gaols. critics contend america's
criminal justice system is going brument. all the while -- bankrupt. all the while making sick people sicker, in 44 states under districts of columbia. the largest mental health providers are gaols and prisons. not hospitals. according to some surveys, between 20 and 80% of inmates from america suffer from a diagnosable mental illness, and once incarcerated. people with mental illness remain locked up eight times longer than people without mental illnesses at 7 times the cost to taxpayers. that's why one judge in miami dade county in florida made had his mission to change the system, doing all he can do take mental illness out of the criminal justice system and stop making the nation's gaols and prisons america's new
asylums. >> we responded. >> this is schizophrenia, depending on how they are when them. >> serious mental illness made its home in the streets of miami dade county. police officers like marco now handle thousands of mental health related calls a year. anything from suicide attempts breaks. >> because she want to kill herself. >> reporter: they know first hand how the city's mental health crisis has become a criminal justice nightmare. thanks to the vision of this solution. steven is a judge for miami
dade's criminal division. we have the highest merge of mental illness, 9.1 of the general population, combined with florida, which is 49th or 50th per capita, and that has resulted in all of our gaols becoming the largest psychiatric facilities in the state. for years, he watched as the failings of an overburdened mental health system brought those suffering from mental health illnesses. courtroom. >> i don't think gaol is the right place for you. if you let me get you treatment. you may be able to get out of this place. >> reporter: folks like this, a 34-year-old paranoid schizophrenia, arrested 33 times since 2002. left without treatment, likeman says he and others end up living on the streets. they self-med kate with drugs or
alcohol, and land in gaol for crimes like pan handling, press passing or petty theft. >> a lot of the crimes we gets are quality of life offenses. they are not exiting nasty horrible offenses, they are getting arrested. >> nationwide numbers are not better. 2 million with mental illness go to state and gaol every year. more than 250,000 are incarcerated. since 2008, an additional 5 billion in mental health has been cut. that meant there's 10 times more people behind bars than treatment. >> you have to ask yourself what is wrong with a society willing to spend more money to incarcerate people that are ill, than to treat them. >> the criminal justice system is wholly ill-equipped to treatment.
>> ron is the director of policy in legal affords for the national alliance on mental illness, and says while slashed budgets took a toll. it's been the focus on problem. >> the reality is it's less costly to intervene at the front end and link people with treatment. it's no different to providing human effective treatment to someone that has a stroke. >> that is something that people don't understand, these are treatable illnesses people with mental illnesses have better recovering rates. you have to get to them. the earlier the better, and you have to work with them to stay in treatment. >> tired of seeing the same faces return time and again. each sicker than the last. judge likeman began a one-man campaign to get the mentally ill out of the criminal justice system and into the services they need.
>> your goal is to get her to comply, just by using your verbal and nonverbal skills. >> that started with bringing in a training programme teaching cops to recognise and recognise those with mental illness, and keeping them out of gaol. police officers refer a third of people to psychiatric people to psychiatric institutions for care instead of arresting them. those arrested can opt into ha special court programme that allow programs to be dropped or reduced in exchange for completing treatment. >> the reality is he is taking the medications. for the most part he's staying out of trouble. and hill is one that chose the programme over gaol, and stayed off his meds and avoided gaol for the better part of a year. along with success stories, they have been credited with dropping the population for 40%.
so much so they were able to close down a gaol. a savings of 12 million a year, and the percentage of people with serious mental illness fell from 72% down to 20. >> the vision of this building is really - this has not been done anywhere in the united states. the final piece of likeman's vision may be the biggest gamble yet. his plan will transfer this abandoned psychiatric institution into a one-stop shop to help those at risk. >> the idea is to target the highest utilizers of criminal services. >> the facility will have its own in-house crisis stabilization and treatment programme. >> we have a massive kitchen here. >> and a commercial kitchen to teach job skills in the food service industry. it will cost taxpayers
$22 million. skeptics question whether so much public money should be thrown at a high risk population, likeman says mistake. >> we can continue to do what we do now, which is costing billions of dollars. or we can intervene for people that are sick, they get their lives back, go to work and pay opportunity. >> next - not everyone agrees that miami's programme works, i talk to a criminal defense attorney saying helping the mentally ill stay out of gaol is a waste of money.
>> if you don't go to college you're gonna end up dead on the streets. >> life changing moments. >> i had never been bullied, everyone hates me. >> from oscar winning director alex gibney. >> shut the cam --. >> a hard hitting look at the real issues facing american teens. the incredible journey continues. are run directly and a lot of programs run incorrectly across the country. the most important thing is a lot of these people shouldn't be arrested in the first place. officers that arrest them do so to coral homelessness. programs should address the issue before they become arrested. they've been arrested for loitering or trespassing. they should have programs outside thele criminal system that -- the criminal system with nothing to do with them flown in the criminal system. the issue of police trained properly is a good idea. they shouldn't be arrested for in the system. once they are in the system everyone touts that it's a great
thing to be in a mental health court. number one is a lot of these people get off the meds as soon as the case is over, and they are doing whatever they do in the first place. now you have 2-times the cost. >> we have identified two things that don't work, the system that doesn't have a mental health court and treats these people as criminals when there's another solution, and mental health courts that do not work. you saw the example in miami dade. do you see what happens in the mental health corp. i'll do an amazing job with the tools that he had. i feel like they should attack the problem where the root is, and the root is really the homeless situation. it has - it's not just - violent offenders are not going into mental health court, and they never show you the numbers. the people that are getting into mental health corp are people that shouldn't be arrested in the first place. i think the judges are doing a
great job. absolutely. the tools he has, he's doing a great job. the problem is that it's attacked from the government stand point that homelessness needs to be addressed. if it's addressed in terms of their mental issues, mental health issues, you wouldn't have them moving on to a mental health court. twice. >> we don't have to agree with you. dealing with it at the first stage. however, once we don't deal with that, and most cities in america we don't deal with it properly, you say the programs like the ones we talk about cost taxpayers too: we are spending billions putting the mentally ill in prison, and rates of recidivism are high. the money is being spent. >> yes. the problem is this - mentally - you know, people with mental health issues don't want to be
on the meds, don't want to follow these things. you force them to do it to get the cases - that shouldn't be cases - dropped against them. when they get out, on their feet, they stop taking their meds. you pay for them to get well, rearrested and paying for them to get well again. >> i'm reading that you think there are better ways, and in many cities we tried better ways, particularly in tackling homelessness with a homeless first programme, where we don't worry about the addiction, the mental health, and getting people a home because studies proved if you do that the other stuff follows, and there's a remarkable saving to public purses where you do it that way. where you don't, you end up with 311 calls and 911 calls about people with mental illnesses and police and ambulances having to deal with it. then the people are in the system. >> and they never get out.
a lot of mental health courts. first of all, a lot of them get arrested first. put into the system, and they are determined whether or not they are competent to proceed. that's not every mental health court. but a lot, where they have to be deemed incompetent to proceed. now you have your spending money on individuals assessing whether or not they are or are not capable of helping you in your defense, and when they are determined whether to help you in defense, they get into mental health corp. it can go on from 3-5 years for felonies. if the person never gets better, some have organic brain damage, they'll never get better. >> i hear what is not working, what should work, what is the substitute. we see the judge trying to deal with what he's got, playing the cards he's dealt. what should be done?
>> well the thing is, like i said before, the judge in miami, i know him and think he's amazing and he's doing a good job with what he has. the government needs to step up federally and locally and address the issues before they hit the court system. that's what needs to be done. systems need to be put into place to recognise the individuals before they get into the court system, before they get in trouble and do a violent outbreak. that's what needs to be done. they were willing to spend money once in the system. we are willing to spend money on gaols, but not attack the problem before it's an issue. >> you are right about that. bradford, criminal offense attorney. next, so many mentally ill people behind bars. the city hired a psychologist to be the warden of a jam, i take you there and show you
>> what did you see when you went outside last year? >> there was a dead body in the middle of the street... for 5 hours. >> there's a lot of work to be done. >> they need to quite talking about what should be done and do it. >> there's clearly an issue and we have to focus on how we bridge that. >> a lot of innocent lives are
>> we have an exclusive story tonight, and we go live... >> comedian mo amer. >> are we filming a short? what's happening? >> confronting stereotypes. >> i was afraid to be myself. >> mixing religion and comedy. >> get over it, you know who i am... got the chuckle, now let's really address it. >> and challenging islamophobia. >> i was performing and would say "i'm an arab american"... and you could hear a pin drop. it's where the newly arrested go for processing. >> how are you doing? >> my job is to help you. what is your number. >> sometimes it sounds more like an intervention.
>> why are you drinking, are you stressed out. anxious, depressed. how are you going to drink that? >> diagnosed. >> when you were little known, what is known about a.d.h.d. don't lie to me. i know you had anger problems. do you get angry? sleep? >> i stayed up a week straight. >> were you using anything else, like cocaine, speed, anything to keep you up? >> ellie is the gaol's director. mental health advocacy. >> any suicidal thoughts, feeling sad. >> on this morning, she and her staff screened detainees. the gaols mental health professionals will find more.
>> i'm worried that you totally are not shooting straight. i'm like your mum for the day. >> most are here for petty crime and drug-related charges. >> typically weir looking for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder. >> lock-up is rapidly becoming the asylum for chicago's mentally ill. cook county is the largest single-sight gaol. 9,000 inmates. 2500 to 3,000 of them suffer from a psychological illness. that fact makes cook county gaol the largest provider in illinois, some going to desperate lengths to get milk. >> do you find people deliberately committing crimes to get back here. what does that stay about the system. >> it's a dirty little system. it's a population na no one gives a crap about, and we do,
we have to do something. >> how are you doing. >> tom is cook county sheriff. >> will a person be eligible... >> he made mental health care a priority out of necessity. why has the gaol become the repository for the mentally ill. >> it's easy. the easiest place to find cuts is in the mental health world. governments looking for cuts, what better place to cut than the group of people that don't have much of a voice. >> desperately strapped for cash. chicago closed six of the clinics in the last three years. at the end of the day it's an expensive proposition to treat people with mental illness. it doesn't make any fiscal sense, it's an expensive model you can come up with. >> how much longer will you be here for. >> when you need an executive director. they did not seek out sections.
recognising the gaol has become a de facto mental health provider. he promoted the clinical sickologist to the top post. it is the first mental health professional to run a facility. >> what does d say when someone like yourself with a background in psychology, and mentally ill, is needed for this position? >> it's a sad reality na this has come to be. i think our most extreme case in the last two years has been an individual that was so psychotic that he was trying to pull his eye out, and tried several attempts. he was successful with pulling one eye out in a previous correctional institution. came to us, and tried on many times to pull out his remaining eye, to where we had to fit him with a hockey mask and mittens so he could not reach his eye
and had a staff member assigned to him 24 hours a day. in a correctional institution you'll have people nor criminally minded and will come into constant contact with those mentally ill. someone is going to feed off of the other. we know that the mentally ill individual is more vulnerable. >> the gaol staff have been trained to identify and handle inmates wide spectrum of mental illnesses. yvette - she arriving -- arrived we use her first name. she has been at cook county, drugs are the main reason but depression and contributors. >> i have a losses i have not dealt with, i use them to suppress them. i lost my son. my fiancee murdered in front of me. i deal with a lot of things. >> what was it last year that
pushed you to the limit. >> i guess not dealing with the grief. not talking. i never talked about it. not talking about it is holding me back. now i'm trying to get the help, the therapy. >> being in gaol, is that the best place to get the help. >> not necessary. should be other options. right now, i don't think they offer that. >> you think you are lucky to get it here. >> yes, absolutely. >> the gaol offers inmates like yvette a variety of therapies, from dance classes, to anger management to job. a few blocks away is the crown jewel - the mental health transition center. in mates are in the final weeks
of incarcerations, all battling mental health. >> in order to help them we transition them housing, food, clothes jobs, all of that, whatever they need to transition and be successful once they hit the streets, that's what we do. how do you think it would make you feel being caught off guard. uneasy, guarded. >> i would say yes and no. >> here inmates learn skills to help find housing and jobs. do you feel that way regardless. >> so would that change if you knew them a little better. >> yes. >> more importantly, support continues on the outside. >> you have to call it weakly to let them know it's okay. they are not calling me. calling. >> any contraband.
it's the last step of searching of what they'd do before we change into a uniform. you can see how much it is a metal rod in his leg. >> do you worry once they get out there, they'll not get the access that they have. >> absolutely, because of the lack of resources. >> reporter: eventually everyone walks out the door. almost all the staff concedes the nonviolent mentally ill in mates should not be here in the first place. anyone thinking that a facility is the proper place for a mental health treatment. let's consider where we want a family member to receive services. i don't think any of us would say cook county gaol is the place that's our show for today. i'm ali velshi, thank you for joining us.