Explainer: How does mental illness affect sentencing?

Just last week, the Victorian Court of Appeal significantly reduced the sentence given to Akon Guode, a mother who killed three of her children after driving her car into a lake in Melbourne. The main reason for the 8½ year sentence reduction was that the trial judge had not sufficiently taken Guode’s major depression into account.

While the circumstances of this offence were unusual, it is common for offenders to have mental health problems. Surveys have shown that almost half of Australian prison entrants report being affected by a mental disorder. With that in mind, how are mental health issues taken into account during the criminal justice process?  more

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Incarcerated Black Men and Mental Health.

Historical adversity, which includes slavery, sharecropping and race-based exclusion from health, educational, social and economic resources, translates into socioeconomic disparities experienced by African Americans today. Socioeconomic status, in turn, is linked to mental health: People who are impoverished, homeless, incarcerated or have substance abuse problems are at higher risk for poor mental health.” – (Mental Health America, 2018)

African American men, incarceration rates are continuously questioned and our current criminal justice system for years now, has been labeled the New Jim Crow.  Most African American men who have a history of incarceration, suffers from some type of mental health disorders.  Our prisons and jails continues to be overcrowded and understaffed, which leads to more stress and violence from the inmates and the staff.  African American men who are incarcerated are exposed to traumatic and violent experiences not only while they’re incarcerated, but even once they’ve been released, and are discriminated against, thereafter.  more

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An old Minnesota jail is now a leader for inmate mental health

When Clay County officials started planning to replace its jail, the oldest in the state, they gathered around a table to start building a wish list for the new jail’s design.

“One of the first things we talked about, one of the big needs we felt, was having proper housing for those individuals in our custody that have mental health and behavioral issues,” recalls Julie Savat, the jail’s administrator.

Staffers visited psychiatric wards at local hospitals and used some of what they learned to tell architects what they wanted to see in a behavioral health jail unit. At the top of their list: A quiet area away from the rest of the jail population, individual cells and a shared space outside those individual cells.  more

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A Rural Community Decided To Treat Its Opioid Problem Like A Natural Disaster

When he was police chief of Stanwood, Wash., population 7,000, Ty Trenary thought rural communities like his were immune from the opioid crisis.

Then, one day, a mother walked through his door and said, “Chief, you have a heroin problem in your community.”

“And I remember thinking, ‘Well that’s not possible,’ ” Trenary recalls. “This is Stanwood and heroin is in big cities with homeless populations. It’s not in rural America.”

Last year leaders declared the opioid epidemic a life-threatening emergency. The county is now responding to the drug crisis as if it were a natural disaster, the same way they’d mobilize to respond to a landslide or flu pandemic.  more

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The preferred jobs of serial killers and psychopaths

Serial killer job breakdown

  • Top 3 Skilled Serial-Killer Occupations: 1. Aircraft machinist/assembler; 2. Shoemaker/repair person; 3. Automobile upholsterer
  • Top 3 Semi-Skilled Serial Killer Occupations: 1. Forestry worker/arborist; 2. Truck driver; 3. Warehouse manager
  • Top 3 Unskilled Serial Killer Occupations: 1. General labourer (mover, landscaper, et. al.); 2. Hotel porter; 3. Gas station attendant
  • Top 3 Professional/Government Serial Killer Occupations: 1. Police/security official; 2. Military personnel; 3. Religious official

Obviously, not everyone occupying these jobs is a serial killer, nor are they likely to become one.

What about the psychopaths?

As we begin to redraw the map of serial murder and career paths, it might also be useful to look at the otherwise better-known index of occupations over-represented among psychopaths.

While not all psychopaths are serial killers, psychopathy —or at the very least, the possession of psychopathic traits —is a common denominator among serial killers, sex offenders and most violent criminals. Have a look at the Top 10 occupations according to an Oxford University psychologist:

  1. CEO or business executive
  2. Lawyer
  3. Media personality
  4. Salesperson
  5. Surgeon
  6. Journalist or news anchor
  7. Police officer
  8. Religious official
  9. Chef
  10. Miscellaneous civil servant (military, city council, corrections, etc.)

more

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Unsane: how film’s portrayal of mental illness is (slowly) improving

Steven Soderbergh: Unretired. The director announced in 2013 that he was quitting because “movies don’t matter any more”. But he has continued to work steadily since – in television and, since last year, film again. The film he made before announcing his “retirement” was Side Effects, a psychological thriller exploring big pharma, that followed a young woman (Rooney Mara) detained in a psychiatric hospital against her will. His new film, Unsane, is a psychological thriller that follows a young woman (Claire Foy) detained in a psychiatric hospital against her will. It is clear, then, that Soderbergh finds mental illness and psychiatry interesting topics to explore.

He’s not alone. But how has the onscreen treatment of mental illness evolved over the years?

One of the screen characters we most associate with mental illness is Jack Nicholson’s Mac McMurphy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest who, lest we forget, was not insane, just hoping to avoid a prison sentence. Miloš Forman’s film, based on the Ken Kesey novel, was praised at the time for a sympathetic treatment of the inpatients, its “battle against the system” narrative and the more-or-less accurate portrayals of the often inhumane treatments routine at the time (lobotomies and electroconvulsive therapy without muscle relaxants).  more

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Why does it seem like serial killers all wear the same glasses?

A brief history of murderers and their chosen eyewear, from Jeffrey Dahmer to the BTK Strangler to the Zodiac Killer

A teenager with red hair swooping over one eye takes a selfie at an eyeglass store and posts it on Tumblr. “I saw these Jeffrey Dahmer-like glasses,” he writes in the caption. “I feel like [they] look cute on me. Is that bad?” He tags the photo #serialkiller.

The list of serial killers who wore glasses is long and bloody, from Dahmer to BTK to Harold Shipman and his professorial frames; even the Zodiac Killer, never caught, wears a thick-rimmed pair in a police sketch. The aesthetic of “serial killer glasses” is so pervasive that it pops up everywhere from Urban Dictionary (“Eyeglasses with heavy or severe frames that live somewhere between fashionable and creepy”) to TV Tropes (where “a guy who is cold, emotionless … or even a soulless monster” is given glasses “to quickly tip off the audience to his personality”), and countless Tumblr posts in between.  more

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Addiction recovery group helps blind man after alleged fraud by two relapsing addicts

A nonprofit group gave a blind Provo man a surprise Tuesday evening after the man became a victim of credit card fraud last week.

The group, “Addicted We Stand,” had a very personal reason for jumping in to help.

Co-Founders Beau Carter and Brandon Allan said they know the two people accused of the crime, and wanted to make things right.

Provo Police said Keyaira Norton-Rushton showed up at James Stewart’s house last week, pretending to sell magazines.  more

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Former teammates paint disturbing picture of Aaron Hernandez in Patriots locker room

Hernandez a headache for Brady

It didn’t even matter if Hernandez caused problems for Brady.

Lloyd told The Globe about an incident involving New England’s five-time Super Bowl winning quarterback.

“(Hernandez) was out at the walkthrough in flip-flops trying to run around,” Lloyd said. “He was laughing. He was loud. And Tom keeps it serious in the walkthrough. And Tom says, ‘Shut the f— up. Get the f— out of here.”

Hernandez did not respond well to Brady’s demands.

“It was like he went from this child-like, laughing, disruptive behavior and he storms off in a fit of rage,” Lloyd said.

Mood swings

Lloyd painted a picture of an erratic Hernandez who would shift gears from macho and angry to sensitive and insecure.

“There would be swings where he’d be the most hyper-masculine, aggressive individual in the room, where he’d be ready to fight somebody in fits of rage,” Lloyd said. “Or he’d be the most sensitive person in the room, talking about cuddling with his mother. Or he’d ask me, ‘Do you think I’m good enough to play?’”

The Globe noted that Hernandez suffered multiple brain injuries and went on to play the week after a concussion, his second documented brain injury.  more

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We Asked What It’s Like to Have a Mental Illness in Prison

In the ’60s and ’70s, deinstitutionalization swept the US. Poorly run state mental hospitals were shut down and set to be replaced with less isolating, community-based programs. It was a promising and ambitious plan that never fully took off—the hospitals closed, the community programs fell by the wayside, and the mentally ill wound up somewhere else: in prisons and jails. But the correctional facilities that moonlighted as America’s mental health hospitals weren’t—and still aren’t—equipped with the staff or resources to help inmates manage their conditions effectively.

How do circumstances like waiting months to see a psychiatrist or not having access to medication impact the people who rely on this care to stay healthy? We asked six former inmates who were managing psychological conditions during their sentence what their experiences with prison mental health services were like. While some spoke about positive and attentive care, others weren’t so lucky.  more

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