Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Budget cutbacks in California expose more mentally ill to police

McClatchy: "Tracy Sinclair Feather's life was spinning out of control again, and the midtown woman was suicidal.

In the past, family members said, she would have admitted herself to the Sacramento County mental hospital, where she frequently got care. But the facility's crisis center had closed because of budget cuts, so Feather called police and reported that she wanted to hurt herself.

By the end of that day in early May, she was in the Sacramento County jail, facing charges of assaulting a peace officer and possible prison time.

The system that had rescued Feather time and again had broken down, family members said, and she was behind bars in lieu of $750,000 bail. Two months later, she remains in jail, awaiting a court date.

It is a scenario that psychiatric specialists and police predict will become more commonplace as the effects of wrenching budget cuts in county mental health services over the last year take hold. Already, police and hospitals are reporting increases in encounters with mentally ill people"

Government budget cuts always hurt those least able to afford them. But let’s not worry about that, let’s obsess over a totally mythical number known as the deficit. Let us keep offering human sacrifices to the angry gods of “fiscal responsibility.”
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