Don’t Ignore Mental Health

There is so much more to mental health than this piece. Don’t ignore the growing epidemic.

The current mental health system in the US is chaotic with the general treatment of unfortunate mental health  patients in America being ignored. Needing treatment is a far cry from getting it. And then there’s the fact that the frenzied system is facing a massive mental health epidemic.

We are finding that many people suffering from conditions cannot find the help they need and are ending up stranded on the streets begging for help. In 2014, it was an estimated that 200,000 were homeless, and 350,000 were incarcerated. It’s unfortunate. Communities tend to reject the serious mentally ill to shelters, prisons and the streets. States have been begging for funding and better training for years.

All of this indicates the journey to substance abuse and violence for comfort.

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Mental disorders affect thinking, feeling, mood, or all with each person having a different experience. It is argued that the connection between the underlying causes are genetics, environment and lifestyle are the key to wellness. When it’s brought up, depression, anxiety, panic, schizophrenia and PTSD are usually mentioned. These conditions radiate through America with 1 in 17 people living with a serious mental illness. 50% of these mental disorders begin by the age of 14 rising to 75% by the age of 24. Additionally, coping with stress can create a person’s disorder.

So where could have we adverted the crisis?

A great example would be mental health and teens. 1 out of 5 live with a mental illness developing between 14 and 24. At a time of self-awareness, many teens try to cope with their issues independently sometimes turn to drugs to settle their disorder If the aftermath Netflix’s ‘13 Reasons why’ told us anything, it’s that mental health is still in the dark ages of its causes, actions, and reactions. That alone sheds light as to why those with mental illnesses get the cold shoulder. The fact that normal behavior and the progression of personality during adolescence mimic and mask symptoms makes it all the more critical.

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Treatment

America has heavily relied on medications for relief from mental illness for generations and generally, the intention is to be beneficial. They influence the brain cells and have brought humans forward from a sadistic past saving many lives. Allowing patients to deal with depression, psychotic episodes, anxiety, and extreme mood swings while living a wealthy life was now possible.

However, many medications hold severe side-effects: memory loss, severe fatigue, isolation resolution, changes in personality to name a few. Ignoring the fact that more that stronger prescriptions is needed in most cases to maintain wellness. It paves the way when it comes to the risks in relieving mental symptoms. Doctors don’t address the underlying issue. Not to mention with rogue doctors exploiting a situation. Many medications are abused to the point when where the current situation begins to leak into many other circumstances.

Like Jail.

It is being shown that many of the inmates incarcerated are suffering from mental problems. The prison system has many flaws. Throwing mentally ill patients behind bars is one of them. It is estimated that 14% of the inmates in federal prisons and 26% in state and county jails met the levels for serious psychological stress. Between the state and county, about 40% were told they have a mental disorder. 31% of those reported a major depressive disorder. Something to think about: There is a higher percentage of females incarcerated with mental health issues. Prescription medication is the common treatment. An overseen issue with the treatment is that many inmates already have addiction issues.

A study in Iowa state prison showed almost 50% of their inmates had a serious mental illness with 29% suffering from substance abuse. 90% is recognized by the 6th year of incarceration and almost all felons were diagnosed while doing their time. Unfortunately by the time all of this happens, the damage is done.

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Suicide

Sadly, those who are subjected to be tortured by their disorder may face their own demise by their own hands. The main risk includes depression and substance abuse. Linkage to this seen as suicidal ideations, social withdraws, mood swings, and reckless behaviors. Sound familiar?

And what happened to patient’s rights?

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While issues with mental health policy have progressed it still has ways to go. Patients being discriminated and rights are denied, lack of access to resources, not being able to make their own informed decision, and overcrowded state hospitals has been ground zero to the chaos in treating mental health. 2/3 of children with mental health issues do not have access to care and the criminal justice system just tosses them in jail at the prime age of treatment. For something so important, there a lot of obstacles.

As far as the issues with mental health and prisons, to ignore it is to prove that the function of incarceration isn’t to rehabilitate, but rather, as we thought, just to hold. Can people really say that the proper treatment is provided in prisons? Should we turn our backs? Assume someone else will deal with it? Mental health professionals are still working on progressing the proper way to treat individuals with conditions as they are finding out generalizing may not be the right way to go about things. Is prison or without shelter the place to be to do that?

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Need A Lawyer? Better Have

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I admire lawyers. But even with my admiration, I cannot ignore a lawyer’s capability to end someone’s life due to loopholes or lack of money. It has been obvious that a guilty verdict while not based solely on it, includes money having a damn good impact on a jury’s decision. People with unfortunate finances are forced to have their choices served from the bottom of the barrel. And that’s not to insult public defenders. They are one of America’s underappreciated and underpaid experts dealing with lives who already had the odds laid out against them. But in the end, that doesn’t matter.

So tell me, which would you rather have: a Public Defender or a private sector Criminal Defense Attorney?

Of course in order to be a lawyer the basic degrees and exams must be completed. But once the bar has been passed, paths tend to differ. General requirements for public defenders are usually entry level asking for internship experience working co-counsel in multiple jury trials. When deciding to go to a private criminal attorney office, not only do they prefer people who already have those qualifications, many ask for completed education such as Juris Doctor, specialized experience. Some also require steady prosecuting experience. Moreover, many junior associates must have their Master of Law, an advanced law certification that has global credibility for career advancement.

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When it comes to workload, most lawyers have their work cut out for them. Unfortunately, when it comes to being a public defender, the demands have become outrageous. They have always had heavy caseloads with it increasing since 2011. An example would be issues in Los Angeles where they are only capable of handling 21% of the annual workload in compliance. Where does that leaves those in need of public defenders? Their lives are put in jeopardy due to professional responsibility. Multiple caseload studies that have been done in the recent years are saying the same thing. Workload deficiencies questions the equality in justice under the law. Hundreds of defendants wait in jail without representation. Look what happened to Kalief Browder.

This wouldn’t be that big of an issue if lawyers wanted to stay public defenders…but they don’t.

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And why should public defenders stay where they are? In 2015, places like Massachusetts had some of their public defenders unable to make a living wage.  We put people in those circumstances in charge of someone’s life. All over the country, the position of public defenders has had a high turnover rates for generations. Would you stay around if you were overworked and underpaid?

Private criminal attorneys, while their goals are the same, are able to approach their cases much differently. If they began to have a caseload that becomes overbearing, their clients can choose to go somewhere else instead of wait. It’s their money. On the other side, lawyers have every right to reject cases if they feel they cannot give 100% to their clients. It’s pretty convenient for all those involved.

Money is always an incentive.

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As for attorney resources, you can be sure that money will be involved. We cannot ignore those who do pro-bono work, but expertise, research, and advice do cost money. In fact, many districts across the country are suing their government due to lack of funding. Missouri claims that their public defenders only get an average of $356 per case in funding. Now I know that most people have seen some sort of investigative show and knows that a detailed case would need a little more funding than that. Additionally, who’s investigating the cases? Someone needs to be out there verifying information. That person would also like to get paid. But without funding, what happens? I know.  An example would be in New Orleans. They have eight investigators for 21,000 cases per year.

The salary between public defenders and criminal attorneys is astonishing but not because there are low quality expectations, rather experience issues. Public defenders have an average of $54k salary. There is a possibility to make 6 figures, but don’t expect it. They work for non-profit so the only real bonus is actually acquitting someone innocent. The private sector has a lot more opportunity for higher salary. They average $78k salary with more room for advancement. Of course, the fact that committing crimes is popular, and if you have money you have more options, the private sector is pretty competitive and a defense attorney could find themselves making about $160k per year.

And lets be honest. Who do public defenders defend? While private sector defense attorneys get to help those upper middle and high class people with steady incomes and trust funds, public defenders get to try to resolve the issues of the impoverished and the mentally unstable. Funny, we are finding that those are the ones that suffer from so much injustices.

So while there are reasons for the differences between public defenders and private sector defense attorneys, those who are affected by it have nothing to do with it. Yet their lives depend on whether or not they can afford all the amenities that comes with being able to pay for a defense. When will we look at the system dead at its core and say ‘man this shit if fucked up?’

Resources:

https://www.lsac.org/llm/degree/jd-llm-difference

https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/missouri/articles/2017-03-09/aclu-others-sue-missouri-over-public-defender-system

http://study.com/articles/Become_a_Public_Defender_Education_and_Career_Roadmap.html

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/paying-private-criminal-defense-attorney.html

Justice Really Isn’t Fair

It’s unfortunate to know that because of Annie Dookhan’s lack of morals, many criminals have lucked out and will be getting away with their crimes. My home state makes up a DMV fine that follows me out of the area, but we have possible clean slates on murder. But once you get pass that, you realize all of those innocent victims of the justice system may have a chance at a normal life now that the injustice has been revealed.

Aside from Dookhan’s criminal acts of judicial violations, a broader injustice is gaining momentum. Of course surprised was not the feeling that shot up my spin when I learned that dozens of people were being exonerated based on new evidence with thousands of other wrongfully accused following suit.

Thank you science for that! Can’t shun a revolutionary process based on one person’s selfish decisions. Not only has it given us endless shows to be entertained with, it has proven beyond a reasonable doubt many times whether a suspect is guilty or innocent. It’s something that those innocent felons in their final moments would’ve never taken for granted.

But there is something that scientific evidence may not always win against and that’s someone who doesn’t want to lose. As humans, it’s easy for us to become narrow-minded in a blink of an eye and although experience is supposed to wean out those who do not fit the title, we are seeing now that this may not be the result. May not have even been the intention by those in charge. That one thing trickles down to many other factors.

It may not be something that is announced regularly, but people are not always prosecuted based on the fact that they committed the crime, rather whether or not the state can win the case. Of course in their defense, the decision not to pursue in the present time takes away the chance of double jeopardy later. But what about those who just like to win?

In lookingPardon Quote1 at our history, a common factor in many exonerating  victims was the prosecution’s decision to massage the case not for proof, but for point and to be known with a high win rate in circles can be compelling.

While competitive behavior works well at pushing lawyers to do their very best to win, it may ignore the push for justice. Throughout history, we have seen prosecutions purposefully hide and deny things if it didn’t fit in their case jigsaw puzzles and those injustices led to many people wrongfully incarcerated. Moreover, it has also been seen that once something is proven otherwise, it’s hard for people to admit fault or defeat.

False or inaccurate eyewitnesses are also a way to open the odds of locking up
someone innocent. Although science has increasingly pokedPardon Quote2 holes in their testimonies, they are still wildly depended on. They have been proven to be sometimes unreliable, coerced, and bartered to felons. When you combine that with someone who wants to win, you may have a problem. More importantly, and something that must always remain a key factor: the less money a defendant can provide, the less decisions fall in their favor. When taking into account the innocent victims being bombarded in the system, wouldn’t someone be nervous if they “fit the description?”

There are many more reasons why innocent people go to jail and the proof is in the continuation of exonerating prison victims. This section of my page is to highlight the many injustices of systems while showing the necessity of some to feel the need to run. We have science now ready to prove an allegation right or wrong. What we don’t have is a system ready to accept fact over someone’s ability to win.Pardon Quote1 Horizontal1

Source: https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/4900