Prison Radio
Joadanus Olivas

My name is Joadanus Olivas. I call this “Inequitable Justice, Part One: Mental Health Disaster.”

My theory is that criminal behavior should not result in punishment and be treated with confinement. I believe one way to cure criminal behavior is through treatment. It should be dealt with like a mental illness, and instead of prison, the facility that one intends to be rehabilitated, if possible, should be like a hospital setting or treatment facility. To grasp the criminal behavior of the individual, I believe psychology should be applied to fully understand the mind state which led to the behavior. We should ask why the individual committed the crime and could this behavior exhibited by the person ever come to an end or not be repeated. When does the person need to adjust the behavior? And is the behavior curable? A treatment plan should be set up to rehabilitate the person for their reentry into society.

According to the California Health Policy Strategy on the California Department of Corrections website, there is an 89% increase of active mental health illness of the California incarcerated, from the year 2009 until now. 19,000 current California prisoners are prescribed psychotropic medications. That is an 80% increase in prescribed psychotropic medication since 2009. So, 2 in 7 California prisoners have active mental health cases currently. Also, those incarcerated here in California, that suffer mental health illnesses are sentenced 12% higher sentences than their fellow prison peers, who exhibit no signs of mental health illnesses at all.

Another fact is that those with mental illnesses are isolated more in central administrative segregation units or what we call the hole. Suicide is the number one cause of death in California prisons, by the way. The mentally ill also have a higher sexual victimization rate. Here in California, there are developments and health programs in prison. I’m currently housed in one. But this program, just as the other prisons and mental health programs are inadequate. It is ran by California Correctional officers who are not trained to work with the mentally ill. Their response to the mentally ill here in prison is the same as every other prison. Our treatment plans are habitually interrupted by the cancellation of our program, due to lockdowns in terms of violence, lack of staff, or because of staff potlucks, because of boxing matches, holidays, birthdays, and a myriad of other personal motives.

Taxpayers in California, you’re being bamboozled. $100,000 per prisoner with mental health ailments is what it takes to house us here in the mental health program. That money is supposed to be used for treatment and to lessen future crime. But as you will see, your money is honestly density. We are not adequately treated. I believe prisons should be fully transformed into treatment facilities and not torture chambers or gladiator schools, where you learn to enhance your criminal behavior to be applied upon your future release, which increases the crime rates.

As I said before, criminal behavior should be dealt with on a psychological level. And you must understand the mind state first, diagnose it, treat it to subjugate the criminal behavior. We need to hire more mental health staff members and train these correctional officers in the mental health field and turn down their military approach and gang-like behavior and do more thorough psych evaluations on the staff to see if they’re even competent enough to work with the mentally ill. The number one reason of death for a correctional officer here in California is suicide as well. Taxpayers, you need to reevaluate what you are funding, a mental health disaster. Thank you.

These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.