Monday, April 7, 2014

Putting New Yorkers in jail because of healthcare cuts, lack of housing, and racist policing, but blaming mental illness

The Editorial Board of The New York Times thinks that enrolling all jail inmates into Medicaid will solve the "mental health" crisis of jail inmates. What a joke !

How many people with mental health needs end up in jail, because of each of a lack of a specialized municipal healthcare system that should first provide people with the full-service mental healthcare treatments that they may need and the NYPD's continued use of its "broken windows" theory of policing that deliberately targets people with the least and people with hardships for incarceration ?

The Editorial Board worries about discharged inmates receiving post-detention care, but what about providing healthcare and support so that people don't become jail inmates in the first place ? Why doesn't The New York Times oppose policing tactics that lead to the arrest of people solely because they may be homeless, may be poor, or may have unmet healthcare needs ? The systematic closing of so many of New York City's full-service hospitals, including specialize mental health hospitals like Holliswood Hospital of Queens, added to a broken municipal shelter system and the lack of affordable housing, leave people with special needs with fewer and fewer places to go. Mix in Police Commissioner William Bratton's crackdown on the poor, and you have a perfect storm that puts people into jail for all the wrong reasons. How do we even know that jail inmates are truly even "mentally ill" ? Maybe some inmates are just plain discouraged as a direct result of either their dire economic circumstances or being targeted for arrest by police for being poor or being of color ?

Furthermore, the Editorial Board's Medicaid advocacy falls short of the realities of the broken healthcare system. So many experienced healthcare providers don't accept, and many specialized medications aren't covered by, Medicaid. By railroading inmates into a Medicaid healthcare plan that doesn't allow access to a full-range of healthcare treatment, I don't know what good the Editorial Board really expects will happen. Have members of The New York Times' Editorial Board ever tried getting an appointment with a good doctor, or filling a prescription, on Medicaid ? How do we know whether people on Medicaid with mental healthcare needs aren't being driven into incarceration by their failed healthcare coverage, the hospital closing crisis, and Commissioner Bratton's crackdown on poor people of color ? Where's the safety net ?

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