Media release July 30, 2011

"Justice Action applauds Richard Ackland’s article “Modern prescription for mental illness: go directly to jail” (SMH 29/07/11) for highlighting the shortcomings in the treatment of the mentally ill. The current ‘tactic’ of isolation and exclusion in prisons and institutions does not deal with the systemic issues of mental health in society. The government continues to throw money at the ‘problem’, yet consistently misses. This is the Keller model of building security hospitals" said Justice Action Coordinator Brett Collins.

"Alarmingly, there is no willingness to confront these issues, instead building the industry and their careers within a policy of callous indifference. Even a new "drug treatment prison" described as "encouraging first steps" by Ackland misses the point" said Mr Collins.
"Justice Action urges a social response to these social issues, where consumers have access to the community, friends, family and the support of consumer workers. The rate of 1:5 Australians enduring a mental illness each year makes it too widespread an issue to isolate behind bars" said Mr Collins.

"People with mental illnesses comprise a large proportion of prison detainees, yet the criminal justice system has continually demonstrated an inability to correctly fund and manage treatment, both during the sentence and after release.  Disturbingly, the focus of treatment methods rests on tools of exclusion, imprisonment and medication, producing a system that is ineffective and incorrect in its policies, potentially causing greater harm to those who are reliant on the duty of care of the justice system" said Mr Collins.

"Justice Action urges the government to adopt a Justice Reinvestment policy in the September budget.  This redirection must include community mental health services employing workers with personal experience of mental illness. We must continue to shine a spotlight on those abandoned in the justice system" said Mr Collins.


For comment: Brett Collins 0438 705003


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