The ranks of those incarcerated in state prisons have increased in unprecedented numbers over the past 10 years. Not surprisingly, courts demand that mental health screening and “treatment” (most often drugs) are given to those deemed mentally unstable.
Recent studies show that mental illness in prisoners is more prevalent than mental illness in the society at large.
Of course prisoners are obviously in a state of mental distress. He or she has committed crimes against others, transgressing against moral and ethical codes of society. He or she is locked up behind bars, away from family and friends. Depression would seem to be a likely outcome of these circumstances.
Statistics as early as 1975 underscored the insanity of giving psychotropic drugs to prisoners either depressed or with a propensity toward violence:
“…violent, aggressive incidents occurred significantly more frequently in Inmates who were on psychotropic medication than when these inmates were not on psychotropic drugs. Of these, antianxiety agents (diazepam in 81 percent of the cases), appeared to be most implicated, with 3.6 times as many acts of aggression occurring when inmates were on these drugs. For the other classes of psychotropic medication the aggressive incident rate was double the rate of those on no psychotropic medication.”
It is widely known that psychiatric drugs are a huge cash cow for pharmaceutical companies. For example, Zyprexa, a schizophrenia drug, represented 23% of Eli Lily’s total earnings in 2008. Johnson & Johnson, once known for band aids and baby shampoo, now makes 3.8 billion on their antipsychotic drugs.
Should we worry? The Affordable Care Act has already signed up prisoners in six states and counties. If the program is nationally implemented, the 7 million in prison, on probation or on parole (not to mention the 13 million incarcerated in county jails every year) will be eligible for psychiatric drugs subsidized by us, the taxpayers.
If psychiatrists in league with pharmaceutical companies have no compunction about drugging helpless foster children (youngsters on Medicaid are 4 times as likely to be given psychiatric drugs as their more affluent peers) it is unlikely they will have moral qualms about drugging convicted felons.
The online version of Psychology Today published a recent article by Robert Whitaker summing up the dangers (obviously known to mental health professionals) inherent in these medications:
“… Moore and his collaborators extracted all serious events reports from the FDA’s database from 2004 through September 2009, and then identified 484 drugs that had triggered at least 200 case reports of serious adverse events (of any type) during that 69-month period. They then investigated to see if any of these 484 drugs had a ‘disproportionate’ association with violence. They identified 31 such drugs, out of the 484, that met this criteria.
“The 31 ‘suspect’ drugs accounted for 1527 of the 1937 case reports of violence toward others in the FDA database for that 69-month period. The drugs in that list of 31 included varenicline (an aid to smoking cessation), 11 antidepressants, 6 hypnotic/sedatives, and 3 drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Antidepressants were responsible for 572 case reports of violence toward others; the three ADHD drugs for 108; and the hypnotic/sedatives for 97.”
A sensible man or woman may try to puzzle out why these drugs are still on the market, let alone given to criminals already known for violence. Unfortunately, one has only to follow the money trail to discover the lengths men will go to line their pockets at society’s expense.