The Mental Illness and Criminality Connection

by | Nov 12, 2014

prisonConvicted felons are diagnosed as mentally ill at a rate 2-4 times that of the non-criminal population.
It would be easy to make the supposition that anyone who commits a crime is in some degree mentally ill. And not many would argue.
But criminal behavior does not automatically equal mental illness. Even if it did, the push towards psychotropic drugs as a means to control the prison population is backfiring dangerously.
Daniel Harr, an inmate who has served time in state prisons and is now somewhat of a whistle blower on the massive over-prescribing of psychiatric drugs has this to say:
“It is now commonplace to see 50—even 60—percent or more of a prison population sleeping in their bunks for 22 hours a day due to the effects of psychotropic drugs they’re being fed like candy.”
Harr says that getting hold of the drugs is as simple as requesting to see a psychologist for a 5 or 10 minute interview, during which he or she claims to have a psychological problem. Next the inmate is referred to a psychiatrist for another 5-10 minute interview.
With no testing or evaluation of any kind, the inmate is then prescribed whatever he or she asks for. And they don’t always take the drug themselves. Some of them merely pocket it and sell it to fellow prisoners.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the nation’s largest prison system has spent $36.5 million on psychotropic drugs in the past 4 years to treat thousands of inmates. Nearly 20,000 prisoners are on these drugs.
Almost 10% of 216,000 inmates are being treated for depression, bipolar disorder or acute schizophrenia.
Psychotropic drugs can make the sane insane, according to many reports. It goes without saying that giving these drugs freely to those who are already guilty of harming others is not a wise course of action.
Some well-known side effects for anti depressants, for instance, are:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Panic Attacks
  • Hostility
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Impulsivity
  • Severe Restlessness
  • Mania
  • Suicidal thoughts or action

Dr. Breggin, a practicing psychiatrist who is adamantly against psychiatric drugs, cites several examples of formerly normal individuals (not criminals or inmates) who committed violent acts while under the influence of these drugs.
In one case, a teenage boy taking Zoloft beat an elderly woman to death when she complained about his music being too loud. There are many cases involving adults losing control while taking antidepressants.
Dr. Breggin notes: “In at least two cases judges have found individuals not guilty on the basis of involuntary intoxication with psychiatric drugs and other cases have resulted in reduced charges, lesser convictions, or shortened sentences.”
The effects of psychotropic drugs are not unknown, especially to those who diagnose mental illness and prescribe drugs to treat the condition. Thus responsibility for crimes committed by those under the influence of psychiatric drugs lies squarely on the shoulders of mental health professionals who are doing the prescribing.
In this situation, it is not difficult to see who the true criminals are.


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