Independent Lens

S21 E13 | CLIP

Jails for Mental Illness | Bedlam

America's three largest jails are also its three largest psychiatric treatment facilities. In this excerpt from Bedlam, while one person with mental illness faces a long wait in jail before finding treatment, California Gov. Gavin Newsom tours the Twin Towers Correctional Facility where he is shocked by the staggering number of people with mental illness housed in high-security jails.

AIRED: April 13, 2020 | 0:01:44
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TRANSCRIPT

- Until the court could find a treatment facility

that would accept Monte,

he waited in jail for four months.

Today the three biggest jails in America are also

our three largest psychiatric treatment facilities.

Across the nation, jails are being built

specifically to house the mentally ill.

[siren wailing]

- We have 1,560 mentally ill in Tower One right now.

- This is a high-security jail

that was built for high-security inmates,

and we are now housing mentally ill folks

in here, patients in here.

- These people are severely mentally ill.

They need a lot more than we can give them here,

but we do the best we can.

- The vast majority are homeless, presumably, right?

- Yes.

- So living out in the streets and sidewalks and shelters.

- Right.

- There needs to be funded resources so that

when these folks get out,

and if they're taking their medication,

they can make it to those facilities or those programs

and get the treatment that they need.

- The state of mental illness in this country

is beyond the trite notion of crisis.

It's at a point of comedic absurdity.

We built more prisons than universities.

Our budgets for prisons are actually higher

officially than our education budgets.

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