Treat the mentally ill better

Treat the mentally ill better

Friday, June 05, 2020

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Dear Editor,

It is with outrage and sadness that I recently learned of the story of a mentally ill man, Noel Chambers, who spent 40 years in prison without being convicted because he was unfit to plea. Chambers died recently in State custody allegedly under poor treatment.

Terrence Williams, commissioner of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), raised concerns about the treatment of mentally ill people in prison. According to him, there are currently 146 mentally ill individuals in prison who are considered unfit to plea.

We don't need a rocket scientist to tell us that there are people with genuine cases of mental illnesses who the justice system have destroyed.

I agree with Williams from INDECOM that a person who is not fit to plea should be in a psychiatric facility and not a prison.

I want to see legislation formulated to better protect the human dignity and worth of the mentally ill who come in conflict with the law, particularly those that are deemed unfit to plea.

It is full time we establish a forensic psychiatric facility for the mentally ill who come in conflict with the law. It is also no secret that mental illness is a taboo subject in Jamaica and the society needs to be more responsive towards the community of the mentally ill. It is full time the society comes to accept that mental health matters and the lives of the community of the mentally ill matter.

Andre Wellington

Mental health advocate

Christiana, Manchester

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