Homeless Homelessness And Deinstitutionalization

1333 Words 6 Pages
There are 150 homeless people housed in the Central Iowa Shelter in the summer, and 400 cram into the same space to escape the cold in the winter months. 33% of homeless people have a severe mental illness as well, which adds to, if not initiates, their hardships (Homeless Mentally Ill par. 1). I once encountered one of these people at a soup kitchen. The man was very open about his mental illness and his positive experience in a mental hospital. Unfortunately, the mental hospital was shut down, and he was forced onto the streets, relying on soup kitchens to survive. His case is not rare by any means; in an act known as deinstitutionalization, mental hospitals are shut down across the nation in the name of producing revenue. Deinstitutionalization is morally wrong and must be stopped. …show more content…
However, with sparse options, the mentally ill become vulnerable, as they are not rooted in any particular place. They can easily get swept up in the world of drug abuse and crime. Additionally, with no provided medication to rein in their mental illness, their condition begins to take its toll on them. Unhindered effects of their mental illness combined with their vulnerability inevitably leads to a run-in with the law. The prison and, in turn, the United States then become involved with the patient’s life once again, which contradicts the original intent of deinstitutionalization. The mentally ill flood prisons in such masses that the national jail system is heavily burdened by people who should not even be there. A study conducted in a Washington prison revealed that roughly 10% of all inmates had some form of a mental illness, ranging from schizophrenia to clinical depression (Fuller-Torrey Ch. 3, par. 18). Instead of being only a prison for criminals, the prison system also serves as a “surrogate medical hospital”—one in which the mentally ill are attended to last, after the mentally stable inmates

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