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The Mental Illness Conundrum

2nd Amend.

The Mental Illness Conundrum

Most of the advocates for increased gun controls are disregarding the mentally ill in America.

Mental health issues are problems our nation’s jails staff have been contending with for years. In 1971, while assigned as a custody officer at the Navy prison at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I along with our staff psychiatrist and JAG officer (lawyer) visited the Massachusetts Correctional Institute for the Criminally Insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts on Titticut Street. Several hundred patient-inmates were confined under appalling conditions there. In the large “smoke room” where smoking was allowed, there were four televisions up on opposite walls where the inmates could sit on long benches to watch. All of the televisions only flickered. Several inmates roamed the room in a trance talking and shouting to themselves and some wore football helmets so they would not injure themselves. The small clinic had bloody bandages on the floor, and a wing holding 80 inmates had to use “honey buckets” for toilets because there was no indoor plumbing. A staff member remarked about the progress being made with one elderly man because he was down to sexually servicing less than 10 inmates a night. Psychotropic drugs were controlling the population; professional staff was at a minimum. We were glad to leave and head north to our well-run prison.

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