Ja’s Prisons Serving as Mental Institutions – Says Lawyer

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Jamaica’s criminal justice system is punishing people for mental illness.

That’s the view of attorney and Tutor at the Norman Manley Law School, Nancy Anderson.

She says it’s time for the country to understand that mental disorders are not crimes to be punished; but illnesses to be treated.

Cecil Thoms reports:

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Nancy Anderson spearheads a project that takes her into correctional facilities across the country to seek the release of mentally ill people who are incarcerated.

Her intervention recently led to the release of 51-year-old Delroy McIntosh, from a Westmoreland jail.

He’d been locked up for nearly 25 years awaiting trial.

The law tutor says Jamaica is making criminals out of people who should be patients.

Mrs Anderson questions the Government’s commitment to helping people with mental illnesses.

She says it is telling that there’s only one mental health hospital in the country, compared with almost 30-correctional facilitates.

And even so, she says, the people in lock up who need mental health treatment are not getting it.

The human rights advocate condemns what she sees as systematic discrimination against people with mental illnesses in the Jamaican justice system.

Nancy Anderson was addressing members of the Kiwanis club of Barbican last evening.