Offer mentally ill inmates urgent attention

Thursday, June 07, 2018

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Dear Editor,

The indefatigable Carla Gullotta, executive director of Stand Up For Jamaica, wrote a letter to the editor in the Jamaica Observer, captioned 'Offer mentally ill prisoners urgent intervention', which stated that Stand Up For Jamaica (SUFJ) has been encouraged by recent news that the Ministry of National Security is working on a policy on how to specifically treat, care and house mentally ill persons who are incarcerated but are unfit to plead.

I wholeheartedly support Gullotta on the point that such a policy is long overdue and needs to be expeditiously implemented. Instructively, the erudite writer and esteemed human rights advocate, wrote as well that, “Mentally ill and lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender prisoners face unique challenges that complicate an already difficult existence behind bars. These persons are essentially in a prison as they face a double barrier of discrimination and ill treatment.”

As a very concerned citizen of Jamaica and extremely concerned about the constitutional rights of citizens from all backgrounds and, standing if you will like SUFJ, I am of the firm, considered and unapologetic opinion that mentally ill inmates should be housed in a specially established facility operated, funded and directed by the correctional services of Jamaica.

Those approximate 18 mentally ill inmates who are within the prison facility, according to Gullotta, have not been receiving the required level of medical care and this serious issue needs to be urgently addressed by the commissioner of corrections and national security minister.

Under no circumstance should mentally ill convicted inmates be sentenced and sent to serve their sentences in a normal prison facility. It is contrary to noted international prison and mentally ill conventions and we need prompt and sincere action.

Correctional officers should be trained on how to treat incarcerated mentally ill inmates. Over a long period of time mentally ill people have been treated scandalously and the overall mindset needs to change to an informed framework in which the society recognises and understands that the mentally ill deserve respect and care.

Robert Dalley

Public Relations Officer,

Ja United Local Government Representatives Association

beralley@hotmail.com

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