JUSTICE WEEK: MENTALLY ILL AND IN JAIL

May 24, 2019 at 5:30 am

In partnership with Public Square Media, we continue our special “Justice Week” series with a revealing look at life behind bars for New Yorkers suffering with mental illness. About 15% of the city’s jail population have reportedly been diagnosed with serious mental health problems. Should they be in jail or even under the New York City Department of Correction’s jurisdiction at all?

Aired on May 23, 2019.

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>> TONIGHT ON "METROFOCUS,"
MENTALLY ILL AND IN JAIL.
OUR SPECIAL JUSTICE WEEK SERIES
CONTINUES WITH A REVEALING LOOK
AT LIFE BEHIND BARS FOR NEW
YORKERS SUFFERING FROM MENTAL
ILLNESS.
ROUGHLY 15% OF THE CITY'S JAIL
POPULATION REPORTEDLY DIAGNOSED
WITH SERIOUS MENTAL HEALTH
PROBLEMS.
SHOULD THEY BE IN JAIL OR UNDER
JURISDICTION AT ALL, AND
PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER RIKERS.
WHAT IS THE CITY DOING TO
IMPROVE TREATMENT?
JUST SOME OF THE QUESTIONS WE
EXPLORE AS THIS SPECIAL EDITION
OF "METROFOCUS" STARTS RIGHT
NOW.

§

>> Announcer: THIS IS
"METROFOCUS" WITH RAFAEL PI
ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA
FLANAGAN.
"METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY --
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --

>>> GOOD EVENING.
WELCOME TO THIS SPECIAL EDITION
OF "METROFOCUS."
I'M JACK FORD.
FOR MANY NEW YORKERS RIKERS
ISLAND IS A SYMBOL WHAT'S WRONG
WITH THE SYSTEM BUT ALSO A PLACE
NEW YORKERS WITH MENTAL
ILLNESSES RECEIVE THE HELPS THEY
DESPERATELY NEED.
AROUND 1,100 PEOPLE IN THE
CITY'S JAIL SYSTEM DIAGNOSED
WITH SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS.
ABOUT 16% OF THE TOTAL JAIL
POPULATION.
THAT SHARE HAS REPORTEDLY GONE
UP AS THE CITY'S OVERALL JAIL
POPULATION HAS GONE DOWN.
FOR BETTER OR WORSE, JAILS SERVE
AS WHAT SOME CALLED DE FACTO
PSYCHIATRIC FACILITIES HERE IN
NEW YORK AND ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
WHILE OFFICIALS SAY THEY ARE
SEEING SIGNS OF PROGRESS WHEN IT
COMES TO TREATMENT, ADVOCATES
FOR THOSE WITH MENTAL HEALTH
ISSUES REPORTEDLY CALLED ON CITY
HALL TO MOVE THIS POPULATION OUT
OF CORRECTION DEPARTMENT
JURISDICTION.
TONIGHT AS PART OF OUR JUSTICE
WEEK COVERAGE WE TAKE A CLOSER
LOOK AT THIS ISSUE AS MAY de
BLASIO PLANS TO CLOSE RIKERS.
OUR ROUNDTABLE OF EXPERTS.
THE DOCTOR FROM CORRECTION'S
HEALTH SERVICES RESPONSIBLE FOR
MENTAL HEALTH CARE INSIDE THE
CITY'S JAILS.
DR. HOMER IS THE CHIEF MEDICAL
OFFICER OF THE CITY'S JAIL
SYSTEM AND AUTHOR OF THE NEW
BOOK "LIFE AND DEATH IN RIKERS
ISLAND."
FRANCIS GREENBERGER FOUNDER AND
PRESIDENT FOR SOCIAL AND
CRIMINAL JUSTICE CENTER AND CEO
OF THE REAL ESTATE COMPANY TIME
EQUITIES AND JOINED BY SKYPE,
PRESIDENT AND CEO OF JUST
LEADERSHIP USA, AN ORGANIZATION
DEDICATED TO CUTTING THE
COUNTRY'S CORRECTIONAL
POPULATION HOPEFULLY IN HALF BY
THE YEAR 2030.
SO WELCOME TO ALL OF YOU.
WE HAVE A LOT TO TALK ABOUT.
YOU CAN TELL FROM THAT
INTRODUCTION A LOT IS GOING ON
HERE.
I WANT TO START OFF GIVING
VIEWERS CONTEXT WITH BIGGER
PICTURE ISSUES AND THEN GET INTO
THE WHAT THE PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN
AND HOPEFULLY WHAT SOLUTIONS
MIGHT BE.
SO DEANA, BRING YOU INTO THE
CONVERSATION FIRST.
BECAUSE I WANT TO FOCUS ON THIS
NOTION OF THE POPULATION IN
JAIL.
THE INCARCERATED.
WE'VE HEARD THAT OVER THE
DECADES IT'S GONE UP
DRAMATICALLY.
AND I KNOW YOUR ORGANIZATION AS
I MENTIONED IS DEDICATED TO
REDUCING THAT NUMBER.
GIVE US A SENSE OF HISTORY HERE.
HOW AND WHY HAS THE JAIL
POPULATION INCREASED SO
DRAMATICALLY IN THE UNITED
STATES?
>> THANK YOU.
I THINK NOTICED AT A SIGNIFICANT
TIME IN HISTORY WHAT WAS
CONSIDERED THE WAR ON DRUG
DRASTICALLY INCREASED OUR PRISON
POPULATION, AND NOT ONLY DID IT
DRASTICALLY INCREASE THE
POPULATION, IT DRASTICALLY,
DISPARAGINGLY TO THOSE
INCAR
INCARCERATED.
STARTED TO SEE MORE BLACK AND
BROWN INDIVIDUALS, STARTED TO
SEE ACTUAL COMMUNITIES
DEVASTATED BY INCARCERATION WITH
THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AT
THAT TIME, BIPARTISAN KNOWN AS
THE WAR ON DRUGS.
WE HAVE TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT
STRATEGICSLY SOME OF THE
POLICIES THAT LED TO THIS MOMENT
AND I THINK ALSO WHEN WE TALK
ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH WE HAVE TO
SEE ACROSS THE COUNTRY WHEREAS
MENTAL HEALTH HOSPITALS AND
SERVICES AND RESOURCES FOR
MENTAL HEALTH DECREASED IN A
COMMUNITY, THE PRISON
CORRECTIONS BECAME THE NUMBER
ONE MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDER
WHERE THESE INDIVIDUALS LANDED
AT.
>> LET ME GET PERSPECTIVES FROM
ALL OF YOU ON THIS.
ELIZABETH, I COME TO YOU.
AS YOU HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN
THIS AREA, AS A PROFESSIONAL,
TALK ABOUT THE INCREASES YOU'VE
SEEN?
AND I GUESS MAYBE THE QUESTION
IS --
ARE WE SEEING MORE PEOPLE
SUFFERING FROM MENTAL ILLNESS
WHO ARE BEING INCARCERATED OR
JUST RECOGNIZING IT IN A BETTER
FASHION NOW?
>> I THINK IT'S PROBABLY BOTH,
AND I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH
DEANA THE IMPACT OF DRUG
LEGISLATION ON INCARCERATION IS
PROBABLY THE LARGEST DRIVER OF
MASS INCARCERATION AND ALSO I
WANT TO ADD IN ADDITION TO
CLOSING HOSPITALS AND COMMUNITY
CARE, IN THE '70s, CIVIL
COMMITMENT STATUTES AND
LEGISLATION CAME IN THAT
ACTUALLY MADE IT MUCH HARDER FOR
PEOPLE TO EVEN GET IN TO THE
HOSPITALS THAT WERE OPEN.
SO IT WAS VERY MULTIFACTORIAL.
I THINK AT LEAST IN TERMS OF NEW
YORK CITY, WE ARE, AS WE EVOLVE
AND ARE BECOMING BETTER AT CARE
WE'RE MUCH BETTER AT DIAGNOSIS
AND ABLE TO RECOGNIZE SERIOUS
MENTAL ILLNESS IN A WAY WE
WEREN'T ABLE TO DO IN THE PAST
YEARS AND DECADES.
I'M SURE THAT'S TRUE FOR MOST
JAILS.
I THINK IT'S A COMBINATION OF
LACK OF ACCESS TO COMMUNITY CARE
AND ALSO BETTER IDENTIFICATION.
>> LAURA, HOW ABOUT YOUR
PERSPECTIVE?
>> I CERTAINLY AGREE WITH BOTH
OF THOSE PERSPECTIVES AND THE
THING I THINK I WOULD ADD IS
THAT AS WE HAVE FORCED PEOPLE OF
COLOR, PEOPLE WITH BEHAVIORAL
PROBLEMS INTO CORRECTIONAL
SETTINGS WE'VE EXPOSED THEM TO
HEALTH RISKS.
EXPOSED TO PHYSICAL VIOLENCE,
SEXUAL VIOLENCE.
SOLITARY CONFINEMENT.
MANY HEALTH RISKS ARE CONFERRED
TO THEM.
WHEN WE KEEP THE DISCUSSION
AROUND INDIVIDUALS AND THEIR
HEALTH NEEDS AND WHERE IS THE
BEST TREATMENT FOR THEM WE MAY
MISS THE FACT THESE PLACES,
THESE 5,000 JAILS AND PRISONS
AROUND THE COUNTRY HARM AND KILL
PEOPLE EVERY DAY.
WE MAKE NEW PROBLEMS, NEW MENTAL
HEALTH, PHYSICAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
FOR THE PEOPLE WHO PASS THROUGH
THERE.
>> AND LET ME ASK YOU, FOR
INSTANCE, YOU KNOW THE
DIFFERENCE ON OUR PANEL HERE,
BUT LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT YOUR
ORGANIZATION, AND WHAT WAS THE
IMPETUS FOR THE CREATION OF YOUR
ORGANIZATION AND WHAT YOU DO?
>> WELL, THROUGH MY SON, A
PERSON WHO HAS MENTAL
CHALLENGES, AND ENDED UP
INVOLVED WITH THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM, AND I
EXPERIENCED HOW LITTLE REGARD
THE SYSTEM HAS FOR PEOPLE WITH
MENTAL ILLNESS.
AND I HAD DISCUSSED EXTENSIVELY
WITH THE D.A. ON HIS CASE ABOUT
HIS MENTAL HEALTH HISTORY, AND
THE D.A. WAS SYMPATHETIC BUT
SAID HIS HANDS WERE TIED.
SAID, LOOK, IF I COULD GET HIM A
SECURED FACILITY, PROTECTION
OTHER THAN THAT INCARCERATION.
I WENT ON A FOOL'S AIR RO ERRAN
THAT.
MY SON IS NO LONGER INCARCERATED
BUT IN TALKING TO A LOT OF
PEOPLE IN THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE
SYSTEM AND MENTAL HEALTH WE
RECOGNIZE THERE IS A NEED FOR
THIS KIND OF FACILITY AND THAT'S
WHAT THE CENTER IS FOCUSED ON.
TRYING TO CREATE AN ALTERNATIVE
TO INCARCERATION THAT IS SECURE,
THAT D.A.'s AND JUDGES WILL BE
COMFORTABLE IN APPROPRIATE KATE
REFERRING PEOPLE TO RATHER THAN
INCARCERATED THEM.
>> BEFORE I GET TO SPECIFIC
PROBLEMS IN THE VARIOUS
FACILITIES IN OUR AREA AND THEN
IDEAS FOR SOLUTIONS, LET ME ASK
YOU THIS.
HOW BIG A PROBLEM IS IT IN TERMS
OF SOLUTIONS HERE?
THAT YOU HAVE TO BE DEALING WITH
LEGISLATORS.
LEGISLATORS HAVE CONSTITUENTS,
AND MY GUESS IS, IF YOU ASKED,
GRABBED TEEN PN PEOPLE ON THE ST
MARX JORTY RESPONSE, I'M JUST
NOT THAT CONCERNED ABOUT THIS.
THESE PEOPLE ARE INCARCERATED
BECAUSE THEY BROKE OUR LAWS.
IF WE CAN HELP THEM, FINE.
IF WE CAN'T, IT'S OKAY WE GOT
THEM OFF THE STREETS.
RIGHT?
NOW, I SUSPECT THERE ARE A LOT
OF FOLKS THAT ARE GOING TO SAY
THAT, AND NOT BAD PEOPLE, BUT
THEIR REACTION IS, THEY'RE
CRIMINALS.
HELP THEM, GREAT.
WE HAVE A LOT OF OTHER PLACES TO
PUT OUR MONEY.
SO DO -- AND DANNA, COME TO YOU
FIRST.
DO YOU HEAR THAT?
DO YOU THINK THAT'S AN ISSUE
THAT WE AS A SOCIETY HAVE TO GET
OVER?
>> I DO, AND I'LL TELL YOU WHY.
BECAUSE WHEN YOU USE LABELS THAT
ARE DEMEANING SUCH AS CRIMINAL,
EX-OFFENDER, CONVICT IT CHANGES
THE PERFECTIVE THAT THE OTHER
PERSON IS THINKING THAT THAT
PERSON IS.
WELL, IT'S NOT UNTIL WE HUMANIZE
TO THE PERSON STANDING ACROSS
FROM YOU IS SEEN AS A HUMAN DO
YOU THEN RESPOND TO THEM.
IF YOU DO NOT SEE THEM IN A
HUMANISTIC WAY YOUR RESPONSE IS
AND UNKNOWN -- UNKNOWN TO YOU
WHICH MAY NOT IDENTIFY THE LACK
OF HUMAN DIGNITY THAT THAT
PERSON EXPERIENCES.
DO WE REALLY WANT EVERYONE IN
CAGES OR IN STATES OF CORRECTION
WITHOUT A CURE WITHOUT
UNDERSTANDING WHAT HAPPENS
INSIDE THE CORRECTION?
HOMER TALKED ABOUT THE EXTRA
TRAUMA AND DIFFERENT THINGS THAT
OCCUR INSIDE THESE FACILITIES.
SO LEADERSHIP, THAT IS ONE OF
THE, THE MAIN THINGS WE WANT TO
MAKE SURE IS ABOUT AWARENESS AND
EDUCATION, BECAUSE THE LARGER
SOCIETY REALLY THINKS CORRECTIVE
IS THE SOLUTION WITHOUT EVEN
UNDERSTANDING THE HARM THAT EVEN
CORRECTION PLACING ON
INDIVIDUAL.
ESPECIALLY AN INDIVIDUAL WITH
MENTAL ILLNESS.
>> MOVE ON TO PARTICULAR
PROBLEMS.
ALL RIGHT?
TALK IN TERMS OF LOCAL
FACILITIES.
HOMER, YOU MENTIONED A BOOK,
YOUR BOOK, FOCUSING ON RIKERS
ISLAND.
IF YOU HAD TO ENUMERATE FOR US
THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PROBLEMS
THAT YOU HAVE SEEN, WHAT WOULD
THEY BE?
>> THEY WOULD BE THAT PEOPLE WHO
WENT TO THE JAIL WERE KILLED IN
JAIL, AND THAT THEIR DEATHS AND
THEIR INJURIES AND SEXUAL ABUSE
WAS A PRODUCT OF RISKS THAT CAME
TO THEM.
THESE ARE NOT SIMPLY RANDOM
OCCURRENCES OR A FEW BAD APPLES.
THESE SYSTEMS ARE DESIGNED AND
RUN HERE IN NEW YORK CITY AND
AROUND THE COUNTRY TO CONFER THE
RICK OF DEATH, INJURY, SEXUAL
ABUSE TO THE PEOPLE WHO PASS
THROUGH THEM AND THAT THOSE
RISKS ARE NOT METED OUT EVENLY.
THEY'RE ACTUALLY DRIVEN BY RACE,
BY BEHAVIORAL HEALTH STATUS.
SOMEBODY WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
MIGHT BE PUT IN SOLITARY
CONFINEMENT THEIR PHYSICAL AND
MENTAL HEALTH WOULD BE EVEN MORE
AT RISK AND THEY MAY DIE AND
THOSE ARE REAL RISKS THAT THESE
SYSTEMS CONFER TO PEOPLE, AND MY
CONCERN HERE IN NEW YORK CITY IS
THAT WHILE WE HAVE MADE GREAT
PROGRESS AND WE HAVE FANTASTIC
PSYCHIATRIC CARE WITH DR. FORD
AND HER TEAM, WE STILL HAS A
SYSTEM THAT CONFERS MANY OF
THESE SAME RISKS FOR PEOPLE WHO
PASS THROUGH METED OUT BY RACE
AND BEHAVIORAL HEALTH STATUS AND
GENDER OFTEN.
>> ELIZABETH, WHEN YOU FIRST
STARTED EED DOING THIS AND
LOOKING --
>> A WHILE AGO.
>> FIRST STARTED TAKING A DEEP
LOOK INTO ALL OF THIS.
WHAT STRUCK YOU MOST
DRAMATICALLY AND PERHAPS WHAT
SURPRISED YOU THE MOST?
>> SO THE -- THE THING THAT
STRUCK ME CERTAINLY THE IMPACT
OF INCARCERATION.
SO THE SPACE OF A JAIL IN THE
NEW YORK CITY JAIL IS NOT
THERAPEUTIC.
IT IS, INVOKES A LACK OF
AUTONOMY, PRIVACY.
YOU'RE AWAY FROM ALL OF YOUR
SOCIAL SUPPORTS.
FOR PEOPLE WITH SERIOUS MENTAL
ILLNESS YOU'RE AWAY FROM YOUR
TREATMENT SOURCES, YOUR FAMILY.
IT'S A VERY ISOLATED SPACE
WITHOUT ANYBODY THERE WHO'S
LOOKING OUT FOR YOU.
AND I WAS REALLY STRUCK BY THE
INFLUENCES OF THE ENVIRONMENT ON
PEOPLE, ON EVERYBODY, FRANKLY,
WHO'S INCARCERATED AND ALSO THE
STAFF AS I GET MORE INTO IT.
I THINK AT AN UNDISCUSSED TOPIC
IS REALLY THE IMPACT OF WORKING
IN A JAIL.
AND HOW OVER TIME THAT CAN SHIFT
ONE'S ATTITUDES.
THAT THERE'S
INSTITUTIONALIZATION.
ACTUALLY IT'S IF YOU ARE IN A
SPACE, CONTROLLED FOR A LONG
ENOUGH PERIOD OF TIME YOU LOSE
THE ABILITY TO MAKE YOUR OWN
DECISIONS, TO THINK CRITICALLY
ABOUT THINGS.
TO BE SUPPORTIVE, EVEN.
AND I DON'T THINK THAT ONLY
HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO ARE
INCARCERATED.
IT HAPPENS TO PEOPLE WHO WORK IN
THESE SETTINGS AND WHO ARE
FIGHTING FOR WHAT'S RIGHT FOR SO
LONG, AND IF YOU DON'T SEE ANY
CHANGE OR ENOUGH CHANGE QUICKLY
FROM THOSE FIGHTS, EVENTUALLY
PEOPLE JUST GIVE UP.
AND THAT IS, I THINK, A REAL
PROBLEM WE'RE FACING IN OUR
JAILS.
>> DEANA, YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE, I
SHOULD MENTION.
YOU SPENT TIME INCARCERATED.
IT CERTAINLY INFORMED YOU AND
GUIDED YOU IN THE WORK THAT YOU
DO NOW.
WHAT ABOUT THAT NOTION?
THAT DR. FORD MENTIONED?
THE CONCEPT OF
INSTITUTIONALIZATION AND THE
IMPACT IT HAS NOT ONLY ON THOSE
INCARCERATED BUT THOSE WORKING
WITHIN THE FACILITY?
>> SO THE STRANGE PART HAVING
BEEN A PERSON WHO HAS BEEN
INCARCERATED, BUT ALSO A PERSON
AFTER MY INCARCERATION LUCKY
ENOUGH AND FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO
WORK IN A MAXIMUM SECURITY
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS IN IT
STATE OF INDIANA, I THINK ONE OF
THE THINGS WHEN WE TALK ABOUT
THIS, BEING INSTITUTIONALIZED,
WHAT YOU'LL SEE ESPECIALLY WITH
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS, BECAUSE
WHEN YOU LOOK AT HOW THE STATE
TREATS CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS,
IT'S ONE OF THE LOWEST JOBS THAT
DOESN'T TAKE A LOT OF EDUCATION
OR REQUIREMENT TO GET IN.
ONCE IN THERE, THE LACK OF
TRAINING AND ABILITY TO EVEN
DEAL WITH THE POPULATION, THAT
IS NOT ACTUALLY GIVEN TO
OFFICERS'S SOME IN CASES WE'RE
STARTING TO SEE PEOPLE, WE'RE
GOING TO TRAIN YOU, OR MENTAL
HEALTH, IF WE HAVE A THERAPEUTIC
COMMUNITY, BUT TRADITIONALLY
THAT WASN'T GIVEN.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS HAVE A
HIGH RATE OF SUICIDE.
THEY HAVE A HIGH RATE OF
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
YOU ACTUALLY SEE THE SAME
BEHAVIOR IN THE INDIVIDUALS
THEY'RE SUPERVISING BEING
DEMONSTRATED WITHIN THEM AS
WELL.
SO I REALLY BELIEVE AS WITH ANY
CAREER OR ANY SITUATION YOU'RE
IN, HAVING PROPER PROCTORS,
PROPER TRAINING ITRAINING, SUP
CHUNT.
I HAVE DEFINITELY SEEN STAFF
INSTITUTIONALIZED TO THE
CORRECTION IN THE WAY THEY EVEN
TREAT THE INDIVIDUALS, BECAUSE
THEY'RE, IN A SENSE, IN A POWER
DYNAMIC POSITION, AND ALSO WE
HAVE TO REMEMBER, NORMALLY
DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
PRISONS ARE LOCATED IN RURAL
AREAS, AND THEY ARE THE EMPLOYER
OF CHOICE IN SOME OF THOSE
AREAS.
PEOPLE DON'T EVEN HAVE A CHOICE
EVEN WITH COLLEGE DEGREES AND
DIFFERENT THINGS ARE WHERE THEY
RESIDE.
THIS MAY BE THE ONLY EMPLOYER
THAT HAS BENEFITS AND DIFFERENT
THINGS OF THAT NATURE, AND TO
TOP IT OFF, WE HAVE TO ACTUALLY
TAKE A LOOK AT, AS WELL, WHAT
HAPPENS WHEN THE FIRST TIME THEY
MAY SEE BLACK AND BROWN PEOPLE,
IS IN A PRISON SETTING, BECAUSE
OF THEIR RURAL AREA OF
POPULATION.
>> THAT REINFORCES OTHER, OTHER
IDEAS THAT ARE KEPT.
AND ONE OTHER QUICK QUESTION TO
ASK ABOUT OBSTACLES AND SWITCH
IN THE NOTION OF SOLUTIONS.
I MENTIONED AN OBSTACLE THAT
BEING PUBLIC SAYING, YOU KNOW
WHAT, INCARCERATED FOR A REASON,
AND IF WE HELP THEM THAT'S GREAT
BUT WE SHOULDN'T PUT ALL OUR
RESOURCES INTO IT.
TALKED ABOUT THAT.
WHAT ABOUT, FOR INSTANCE, MAYBE
YOU SAW OR HEARD THIS.
WHAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT, HEY,
THE FOLKS WITH MENTAL ILLNESS
ARE GETTING MUCH BETTER CARE AND
TREATMENT NOW THAN THEY WOULD
HAVE THEY WERE OUT ON THE STREET
OR IN THEIR HOMES OR WHERE THEY
WERE.
SO YOU KNOW, THEY SHOULD BE
APPRECIATIVE OF IT?
HAVE YOU COME ACROSS THAT OR
HAVE YOU COME ACROSS THAT?
>> I ACTUAL WILL HAD A
CONVERSATION WHEN I WAS DEALING
WITH MY SON WITH A FRIEND WHO'S
A HIGH OFFICIAL IN THE
DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH IN
THE STATE OF NEW YORK, AND I
SAID TO HIM, LOOK, I KNOW FROM A
SOCIETAL POINT OF VIEW MAYBE IT
WOULD BE BETTER IF HE SPENT SOME
TIME IN, MAYBE THAT WOULD
STRAIGHTEN HIM OUT.
HOW SHOULD I THINK ABOUT THIS AS
A PARENT?
AND HE SAID IT'S NOT BETTER FOR
SOCIETY, BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT IT
MAY NOT HELP PEOPLE WITH MENTAL
HEALTH PROBLEM PS, MAKES IT
WORSE.
98% OF THE PEOPLE ARE RELEASED
FROM PRISON EVENTUALLY AND COME
OUT WORSE THAN THEY WENT IN.
THAT'S NOT GOOD FOR SOCIETY.
SO HE WAS ARGUING THAT NOT ONLY
FROM AN INDIVIDUAL POINT OF
VIEW, BUT EVEN FROM A SOCIETAL
POINT OF VIEW, THAT THIS KIND OF
REHABILITATION WAS NOT BEING
SUCCESSFULLY ADMINISTERED IN THE
PRISONS, AND A DIFFERENT
SOLUTION NEEDED TO BE FOUND.
AND I THINK THAT THERE ARE, YOU
KNOW -- OUR SYSTEM,
NOTWITHSTANDING FOR MANY PEOPLE
GOODWILL INVOLVED, WAS SET UP,
YOU KNOW, RECIDIVISM RATES ARE
EXTRAORDINARY.
PEOPLE WHO CAN'T SURVIVE PAROLE,
WHICH IS ANOTHER VERY IMPORTANT
PART OF THE SYSTEM.
TAKE A MENTALLY ILL PERSON WITH
TROUBLE WITH IMPULSIVE BEHAVIORS
AND PUT HIM IN MORE AND MORE
RESTRICTIVE SETTINGS.
I MEAN --
>> HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE IN PRISON
FOR TECHNICAL VIOLATION OF
PAROLE, AS OPPOSED TO HAVING
COMMITTED A, ANOTHER SERIOUS
EVENT?
>> THE BIG QUESTION IS, ARE WE
GOING TO HAVE A SYSTEM THAT JUST
TRIES TO LOCK PEOPLE UP AND
THROW THEM AWAY FOREVER?
OR IS IT A REHABILITATIVE
SYSTEM?
I WAS DEALING WITH A COLLEGE
STUDENT RECENTLY ARRESTED FOR A
DRUG CHARGE.
WASN'T INCARCERATED, BUT NOW SHE
CAN'T CONTINUE IN HER COLLEGE,
BECAUSE SHE CAN'T GET HER
FEDERAL MONEY BECAUSE OF A RULE
IF YOU COMMITTED A CRIME -- SHE
HAD SOME RECREATIONAL DRUGS IN
THE CAR AND GOT STOPPED BY THE
POLICE.
WE'RE RUINING A LIFE.
AND, YOU KNOW, THERE'S A
STATISTIC.
I DON'T KNOW, HOMER MIGHT KNOW
BETTER THAN I, BUT I THINK I
HEARD 60 MILLION PEOPLE IN
AMERICA DOES BEEN ARRESTED.
THIS IS NOT A SMALL CONSTITUENCY
ANYMORE.
THIS IS A GIANT CONSTITUENCY.
IF THAT NUMBER'S CORRECT, AND I
DON'T KNOW WHETHER IT IS.
>> LET'S --
>> IT'S A SIGNIFICANT PART OF
OUR POPULATION.
>> WHATEVER THE NUMBER, WE KNOW
IT'S SIGNIFICANT.
TALKED ABOUT PROBLEMS.
LET'S TALK ABOUT SOLUTIONS.
>> RIGHT.
>> SO ESSENTIALLY IF YOU GO T T
BE KING OR QUEEN FOR A DAY AND
SAY, AS OF TOMORROW, THIS IS
WHAT WE'RE DOING, LET'S,
ELIZABETH START WITH YOU, HOMER,
COME TO YOU AND WORK OUR WAY
AROUND.
WHAT'S ON THE TOP OF YOUR LIST?
WHAT -- I GUESS IT'S TWO
SEPARATE QUESTIONS.
WHAT SHOULD WE BE DOING?
WHAT CAN WE DO?
>> I DON'T HAVE A ONE AT THE TOP
OF THE LIST.
I'M SORRY ABOUT THAT.
>> THERE ARE A BUNCH AT THE TOP
OF THE LIST.
>> SOME ACTUALLY WE ARE DOING.
I FIRMLY BELIEVE THAT WE SHOULD
TRY TO BE AS REHABILITATIVE AND
THERAPEUTIC AS POSSIBLE WHEREVER
THESE PATIENTS ARE, EVEN IF IN A
JAIL.
SO CERTAINLY UP AT THE TOP IS TO
ALWAYS THINK OF THE PATIENT
FIRST.
WHAT IS HELPFUL, BEST FOR THEM?
FRANKLY, IF ALL DECISIONS COME
OUT OF THAT ONE GUIDING
PRINCIPLE GOOD THINGS CAN HAPPEN
AND WE'RE DOING IN THE JAIL.
I COULD GIVE YOU EXAMPLES OF
THOSE.
I THINK THE ENVIRONMENT OF CARE
IS A CRITICAL THING THAT HAS TO
BE CHANGED AND THE CITY IS, AS
YOU KNOW, MAKING EFFORTS TO DO
THAT.
RIKERS ISLAND IS ISOLATED, IT'S
VERY DIFFICULT TO GET TO FOR
ATTORNEYS, FOR FAMILIES, FOR
ADVOCATES.
>> LEARNED THERE'S NOTHING GOOD
ABOUT THAT.
>> AND THE PHYSICAL SPACE MAKE
AS HUGE DIFFERENCE.
>> YEAH I.
>> THINK THAT'S --
>> HOMER, YOU?
WHAT'S YOUR LIST?
>> I THINK THAT WE NEED TO BE
HONEST.
WE STILL NEED TO BE HONEST ABOUT
WHAT HAPPENS BEHIND BARS AND BE
MUCH MORE HONEST ABOUT THE
HEALTH RISKS THAT ARE CONFERRED.
WE SHOULD KNOW HOW MANY OF THE
DEATHS THAT OCCUR IN RIKERS AND
AROUND THE COUNTRY IN JAIL ARE
PREVENTIBLE OR ATTRIBUTABLE TO
THE JAIL ITSELF.
WE DON'T KNOW THAT.
THAT DOESN'T GET REPORTED.
MORE BROADLY, I THINK WHILE WE
CLOSE THE APERTURE, WHILE WE
HAVE FEWER PEOPLE GOING IN TO
JAILS AND PRISONS, WHICH WE MUST
DO, CLOSING RIKERS IS PART OF
THAT.
WE MUST ALSO INVEST IN COMMUNITY
RESOURCES.
I DON'T MEAN BIG TOWERS, BIG
IN-PATIENT CENTERS, MANY OF THE
COMMUNITY RESOURCES DESTROYED
THROUGH URBAN RENEWAL, BEFORE
THE WAR ON DRUGS EVEN CAME
AROUND, AND THEN CERTAINLY
DURING THE WAR ON DRUGS,
COMMUNITY MENTAL HEALTH,
EDUCATIONAL AND VOCATIONAL
SERVICES.
WE HAVE TO TAKE THE DOLLARS THAT
WOULD HAVE BEEN SPENDING ON THIS
JUSTICE SYSTEM AND INVEST THEM
THERE.
THAT PART OF THIS EQUATION IS
OFTEN ABSENT.
THE DISCUSSION OF SIMPLY
REFORMING BAIL, FEWER JAILS IT
TAKES MONEY AND INVESTMENT, AND
JUST AS WHEN WE CLOSED ALL THE
INT PATIENT MENTAL HEALTH
CENTERS, IN THE '70s AND '80s,
WE NEED TO INVEST SO THEY DON'T
HAVE LAW ENFORCEMENT CONTACT.
>> I SAW A NUMBER, STAGGERING,
ABOUT WHAT IT COSTS US FOR A
SINGLE PERSON WHO IS
INCARCERATED IN RIKERS ISLAND
FOR A YEAR.
IF I REMEMBER CORRECTLY, MORE
THAN $300,000?
AND DEANA IS SHAKING HER HEAD
YES.
I'M RIGHT OR CLOSE ON THE
NUMBER.
NOW, HERE'S MY QUESTION.
IF RIKERS GETS CLOSED WITHIN THE
TIME SCHEDULE SUGGESTED AND
THERE ARE FOUR NEW FACILITIES
THAT ARE ESTABLISHED, DO YOU
THINK THAT THE VARIOUS
LEGISLATORS HAVE THE APPETITE TO
SAY, WE'RE GOING TO SAVE A LOT
OF MONEY, BUT LET'S JUST NOT PUT
THAT MONEY IN, YOU KNOW, IN THE
COFFERS AND SIT ON IT.
LET'S REDIRECT THAT MONEY AND A
SIGNIFICANT PORTION IN THE NEW
FACILITIES, FOR INSTANCE, FOR
SOME OF THE THINGS THAT WE'RE
TALKING ABOUT?
FOR PEOPLE WHO ARE INCARCERATED
WHO HAVE MENTAL ILLNESS.
DO ALL OF YOU SEE AN APPETITE TO
DO THAT, THAT WE CAN MAKE
PROGRESS, WE CAN REDIRECT THAT
MONEY AND MAKE PROGRESS EITHER
IN NEW FACILITIES OR TRANSFERS
TO HOSPITALS OR WHATEVER THE
SUGGESTION IS GOING TO BE?
ABOUT TWO MINUTES LEFT.
ASK EACH OF YOU TO WEIGH IN
QUICKLY, IF YOU WOULD.
DEANNA, DO YOU SEE AN APPETITE
FOR PEOPLE REDIRECTING THE MONEY
INTO THESE AREAS?
>> YES.
AND NOT ONLY IN THOSE AREAS IN
FACILITIES BUT ALSO IN THE
COMMUNITIES MOST DEVASTATED BY
INCARCERATION WHO ACTUALLY
INVEST IN THOSE COMMUNITIES, AS
COMMUNITIES THAT THRIVE ACTUALLY
HAVE INDIVIDUALS THAT THRIVE.
>> ELIZABETH, YOU SEE IT?
>> I'M WINTNESSING IT IN DESIGN
OF NEW JAILS.
A LOT OF THOUGHT AND ATTENTION
BEING MADE TO MAKING THEM TEAR
P
THERAPEUTIC AND BETTER ABLE TO
MEET THE NEEDS.
>> YOU'RE FAIRLY OPTIMISTIC
BASED UPON WHAT YOU'RE SEEING
THAT IN TERMS OF THINGS SUCH AS
DESIGN AND WILLINGNESS AND
ABILITY TO PROVIDE STAFF THAT
WE'RE MOVING FORWARD?
>> I AM OPTIMISTIC.
AND ACTUALLY COULDN'T BE IN MY
JOB IF I WASN'T OPTIMISTIC BUT I
THINK IT'S ALSO REALISTIC
OPTIMISM.
>> ALL RIGHT.
AND FOR INSTANCE, HOW ABOUT YOU,
YOUR PERSPECTIVE?
>> YOU KNOW WHEN I STARTED
LEARNING ABOUT THE CRIMINAL
JUSTICE SYSTEM I WENT ON A
LISTENING TOUR AND TALKED WITH A
LOT OF PEOPLE FROM INMATES TO
HEADS OF INSTITUTIONS, AND THERE
SEEMED TO BE A LOT OF UNANIMOUS
OPINION THE SYSTEM WASN'T
WORKING GIVING THE IMPETUS TO
CLOSE RIKERS AND I THINK THERE'S
BROAD APPRECIATION TO THE FACT
OUR PUBLIC FOLES THAT'S INFORMED
OUR ACTIONS FOR A LONG TIME HAVE
LED US TO A BAD PLACE.
AND THAT THERE IS AN IMPETUS FOR
CHANGE.
WE'RE SEEING IT IN NEW YORK,
WE'RE SEEING IT IN FLORIDA,
WE'RE SEEING IT IN CALIFORNIA
THERE'S A RECOGNITION THAT
SOMETHING NEW HAS TO HAPPEN
HERE.
>> I GUESS IF YOU LOOK AT IT,
BEFORE YOU GET A SOLUTION TO A
PROBLEM YOU HAVE TO RECOGNIZE A
PROBLEM EXISTS.
>> ABSOLUTELY.
>> SOUNDS LIKE AT LEAST WE ARE
THERE.
LOOK, THIS HAS BEEN A VERY
REVEALING AND THOUGHTFUL
DISCUSSION.
I CERTAINLY APPRECIATE ALL OF
YOU.
WEIGHING IN AND OFFERING YOUR
THOUGHTS ON THIS, AND PERHAPS AS
WE MOVE FORWARD WE CAN TALK A
LITTLE MORE WITH ALL OF YOU.
BUT AGAIN, OUR THANKS FOR ALL
THE WORK THAT YOU'RE DOING AND
THE THOUGHT YOU'RE PUTTING INTO
THIS.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING
US, AND A REMINDER FOR ALL OF
YOU, JUSTICE WEEK WRAPS UP
TOMORROW NIGHT RIGHT HERE ON
"METROFOCUS" AND WE LOOK FORWARD
TO SEEING YOU THEN.
HAVE A GOOD NIGHT.

>> "METROFOCUS" IS MADE POSSIBLE
BY --
JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH,
SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III,
THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA
PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT
ANTI-SEMITISM.
BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ,
ROSALIND P. WALTER,
BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG,
AND BY --
CORPORATE FUNDING FOR
"METROFOCUS"
WAS PROVIDED BY MUTUAL OF
AMERICA,
YOUR RETIREMENT COMPANY.
AND BY PSE&G, SERVING
CUSTOMERS, STRENGTHENING THE
BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND INVESTING
IN THE FUTURE.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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