Prisons have become one of the main distribution points for psychiatrists peddling psychotropic drugs and for drug companies happy to supply all these medicines to a growing population of criminals.
It’s quite a successful business model. Prisoners get screened when they arrive in prison, get put on psychiatric drugs to treat fraudulently labeled “disorders”, later get released into society, commit more crimes or acts of violence prompted by the side effects of the medicines they were given in jail and soon end up back inside prison walls to start the cycle again.
Big drug profits are made, much of it paid for by federal and state tax dollars.
Here are some statistics for this trend of drugging prisoners:
- More than half of all prison and state inmates reported mental health problems, including symptoms of major depression, mania and psychotic disorders, according to a 2004 federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) report, Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates.
- In 1998, the BJS reported there were an estimated 283,000 prison and jail inmates who suffered from mental health problems. That number in 2004 was estimated to be 1.25 million an increase of more than 4 times
- The rate of reported mental health disorders in the state prison population is five times greater (56.2 percent) than in the general adult population (11 percent).
- Almost three quarters (73 percent) of all women in state prison have mental health problems, compared to 55 percent of men.
- Nearly 70 percent of facilities housing state prison inmates reported that, as a matter of policy, they screen inmates at intake
- 73 % distribute psychotropic medications to their inmates
How exactly does a prisoner get chosen as a candidate for psychiatric medication? The psychiatrists determine it in this fashion:
“Mental health problems were defined by two measures: 1. A recent history of a mental health problem. This must have occurred in the 12 months prior to the interview. A recent history of mental health problems included a clinical diagnosis or treatment by a mental health professional. 2. Symptoms of a mental disorder.Symptoms of a mental disorder were based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,(DSM-IV)”
The cost to taxpayers for treating these so called “mentally ill” inmates using these drugs runs about $9 billion annually according to The National Alliance on Mental Illness.
State after state in the US is waking up to the huge cost and horrible effects of these drugs.
Last year Esteban Gonzalez, president of the American Jail Association, an organization that represents jail employees, told The Wall Street Journal that “In every city and state I have visited, the jails have become the de facto mental institutions.”
Oklahoma found that in 2013 the percentage of incarcerated inmates diagnosed with a mental illness had nearly doubled in the last 5 years. The top ten drugs included 7 antipsychotics and 3 antidepressants. The total cost of all such drugs was at least $1.3 million, or 52 percent more than in 2010.
Michigan discovered in 2013 that the yearly projected cost for Corrections Department psychotropic drugs was $3,431,500.
In California nearly 20 percent of the $144.5 million California spent on all prison pharmaceuticals last year went for anti-psychotic drugs – that’s something like $28.9 million dollars to attempt to keep inmates quiet and well behaved.
A federal judge recently decided to maintain court oversight of the mental health system in California and found that the state continues to violate constitutional standards.
“Why are all these people on meds? A lot of it, I think, we over prescribe on mental health. Anybody who comes in on mental health (referrals), we put on a psychotropic,” said J. Clark Kelso, the federal court-appointed receiver who controls prison medical care in that state.
Even worse than the drug companies making huge profits with screening schemes and mandatory drugging in prisons, is the evidence of what these drugs do to the inmates.
Clear back in 1975 the “Canadian Family Physician” published a research study called “Effect of Psychotropic Drugs on Aggression In a Prison Setting”
“The authors, working in a maximum security correctional institution, had noted an apparent increase in acts of aggression by inmates when these inmates were on psychotropic drugs. A retrospective study was therefore carried out to attempt to correlate and prove or disprove this hypothesis. It was found that violent, aggressive incidents occurred significantly more frequently in Inmates who were on psychotropic medication than when these inmates were not on psychotropic drugs.”
They tested four classes of drugs with the prisoners.
1. Antianxiety agents.
4. Sedatives and hypnotics.
“Of these, antianxiety agents 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.”
They also wrote that hostile aggression frequently follows from the use of benzodiazepines (drugs like Valium and Xanax. They noted that Haldol, Librium and Valium released hostility in patients and had been proved to be the cause in some acts of murder and suicide.
Newer psychiatric drugs have created even more havoc than those available in 1975.
“In virtually every mass school shooting during the past 15 years, the shooter has been on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs,” observed Lawrence Hunter of the Social Security Institute. “Yet, federal and state governments continue to ignore the connection between psychiatric drugs and murderous violence, preferring instead to exploit these tragedies in an oppressive and unconstitutional power grab to snatch guns away from innocent, law-abiding people who are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution the right to own and bear arms to deter government tyranny and to use firearms in self defense against any miscreant who would do them harm.”
There are many recent examples:
• Toby Sincino, a 15-year-old who shot two teachers and himself in 1995 at his South Carolina school, was taking the antidepressant Zoloft.
• Kip Kinkel, an Oregon teen who murdered his parents and proceeded on a shooting rampage at his high school in 1998, killed two and wounded 25 while in Prozac withdrawal.
• Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in 1999 at his Idaho high school while on an antidepressant.
• T.J. Solomon, Jr. was 15 years old when he shot six classmates in Atlanta in 1999. He was taking Ritalin and was also being treated for depression.
• Jason Hoffman wounded five people with a shotgun at his California high school in 2001 while on two antidepressant medications, Celexa and Effexor.
• Jeffrey Weise, a student at Red Lake High School in Minnesota, killed 10 and wounded seven in 2005 while on Prozac.
• Matti Saari, a college student in Finland, shot and killed 10 people before committing suicide at his university in 2008. The Finnish Ministry of Justice later reported he was taking an antidepressant and an anti-anxiety medication.
- James Holmes, the Colorado batman shooter, had taken 100 milligrams of Vicodin immediately before he shot up the movie theatre
- Christopher Pittman was on antidepressants when he killed his grandparents
- Eric Harris, one of the gunmen in the Columbine school shooting, was taking Luvox and Dylan Klebold, his partner, had taken Zoloft and Paxil
- Doug Williams, who killed five and wounded nine of his fellow Lockheed Martin employees, was on Zoloft and Celexa
- Michael McDermott was on three antidepressants when he fired off 37 rounds and killed seven of his fellow employees in the Massachusetts Wakefield massacre
In fourteen recent school shoots, the acts were committed by persons taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs, resulting in over 100 wounded and 58 killed. Yet, depression and violence had no known connection until antidepressant drugs appeared on the scene.
“One of the things in the past that we’ve known about depression is that it very, very rarely leads to violence,” observed psychiatrist Peter Breggin in a Fox News report. “It’s only been since the advent of these new SSRI drugs that we have murderers, sometimes even mass murderers, taking antidepressant drugs.”
Another psychiatrist, David Healy, says: “Violence and other potentially criminal behavior caused by prescription drugs are medicine’s best kept secret. Never before in the fields of medicine and law have there been so many events with so much concealed data and so little focused expertise”.
Here are a few examples court cases where this best kept secret is revealed.
1. In 1990 a Wyoming man was treated with Prozac for depression. He had a clear adverse reaction to Prozac involving agitation, restlessness and possible hallucinations, which worsened over a three-week period. In 1998 a new family doctor unaware of this bad reaction gave him Paxil. Two days later after two doses of this medication, the man put three bullets each through the heads of his wife, his daughter, and his nine-month-old granddaughter before killing himself.
At a suit brought in June 2001 by the surviving son-in-law, a jury found that Paxil “can cause some people to become homicidal and/or suicidal”. Smith Kline Beecham was deemed 80 percent responsible for the ensuing events. The evidence included documents showing an unpublished drug company study of incidents of serious aggression in 80 patients, 25 of which involved homicide.
2. A 74-year-old man from New South Wales had a history of mixed anxiety/depressive episodes, many of which resolved without drug treatment. He had no history of violence or suicidality, and had remained gainfully employed throughout.
During one of these episodes, he was given (Zoloft) by a GP and clearly responded adversely to this, most notably with agitation. He stopped treatment the following day on medical advice. In July 1999, he sought help from his GP, who was on leave and the new doctor, not checking his medical records, gave him more Zoloft.
The next morning, after his wife got up he met her in the kitchen and strangled her. He then set off in his car, having decided to kill himself, but turned round and contacted the police to tell them what had happened. The judge stated: “I am satisfied that but for the Zoloft he had taken he would not have strangled his wife”.
3. Here’s a woman who never had committed a crime until taking Prozac. Three weeks later she robbed a 14-year-old boy of his phone and watch. Two days later she stole another phone. Her psychiatrist wrote “it seems that she has partially responded to treatment with Prozac …I have advised her to increase the dose of Prozac to 30mg in the morning.” She did as advised but the day after, as well as five days later, she engaged in further robberies. Three weeks later she attempted robbery with an offensive weapon.
She had never before been involved in criminal behavior. Her first two offences took place 17 and 19 days after she started Prozac. They appear to have been impulsive and were marked by complete lack of feeling. The third, fourth, and fifth offences occurred after a dose increase. The fifth offence involved brutal violence and use of a flick knife.
4. Here in Florida in 2001, a 31-year-old mother, separated from the father of her 3-year-old twin boys and experienced an upset during a custody battle. She read an advertisement in a magazine for “panic disorder” and decided this fit her symptoms. She went to see her doctor but could only see the nurse practioner who gave her a free starter pack of Zoloft and a Xanax prescription. She started to think of suicide and when she woke up one day with her father’s pistol in her hands she was alarmed and went to see the doctor. Again, he wasn’t available and the nurse switched her to Paxil and Xanax. Her suicidal thoughts got worse and claiming she saw no future for herself or her children, she shot both boys in the head just before their afternoon nap. The defence team contended that she was not guilty by reason of temporary insanity caused by the prescription drugs provided by the nurse practitioner. The judge ruled that evidence could be admitted indicating that psychosis was associated with SSRI treatment, but that a causal relationship could not be argued. With this restriction on defense testimony, the State Attorneys convinced the jury that the drugs did not play a causal role in the homicides and was convicted, and sentenced to life without possibility of release.
In a recent article called “Are We About to Make Criminals More Violent” The Alliance for Natural Health sums up the current situation with prisons and psychiatric drugs.
It points out that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare gives states two ways to shift the healthcare costs of state, county and local jails to federal taxpayers. First, many prisoners and parolees will qualify for Medicaid and, secondly, because there is a loophole in ACA that allows states to sign up for Obamacare any prisoners waiting for trial.
Natural or alternative treatment is not likely with ACA which means the very drugs that create violence, homicides, and suicides will be prescribed to these prisoners who are already prone to crime and violence.
Another factor they point out is the addictive nature of drugs like Adderall and Xanax – two of the world’s most addictive. Many crimes are committed to get money for drugs and 80% of inmates have some substance abuse problem already without being given addictive medicines.
Expanded coverage for inmates has not been widely publicized yet but the administration is already funding one organization to enroll Illinois prisoners into Obamacare programs.
“So far, only six states and counties are signing up prisoners under the new ACA rules. But if this program is implemented nationally, many of the seven million Americans behind bars, on parole, or on probation, as well as the thirteen million booked into county jails each year, would be eligible for taxpayer-subsidized drugs linked to violence.”
With so many good alternatives to help criminals get off drugs and back to lives as productive citizens, it’s sad to see the government helping the psychiatrists to pour fuel on the fire.