Pennsylvania’s Mentally Ill Spend Years in Jail Without Trial or Treatment

“Without enough beds in mental facilities, Pennsylvania is forcing the ‘mentally unfit’ to stay locked up. One has become borderline catatonic waiting for help.”

The article cited below comes from The Daily Beast and is written by Christopher Moraff. Although set within a US-context and in relation to one particular US-state, it also has relevance to similar issues within many other countries concerning mental ill-health and prison/judicial systems. For example, within a UK context see Modernising the Mental Health Act – final report from the independent review, pages 197 – 204: “Patients within the criminal justice system”.

Christopher Moraff writes:

“On the morning of April 28 [2015], a 52-year-old homeless man named Darryl Warthen was found beaten to death inside his cell at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center (PICC). His cellmate, who had arrived the day before to await trial for aggravated assault, was charged with his murder.

With their defendant now deceased, prosecutors dropped their charges of burglary and trespassing against Warthen. And his murder was promptly written off as one more violent act in a system plagued by them. Except that Warthen had been declared mentally unfit to stand trial five times since his 2012 arrest, and on the day he was murdered he was supposed to be 20 miles away from PICC receiving state-mandated psychiatric treatment. He had been waiting for a transfer there since September 2014.

The final listing on his docket sheet, dated six days before his death, states unequivocally: “Defendant is incompetent but in need of treatment …”

Read more here.

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