GINA CRIES HERSELF TO SLEEP most nights and spends her off days trying to get our justice system to do justice for her son, Jeremy. Jeremy Smith suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and has an IQ between 50 and 70. Gina has her son's power of attorney, but when Jeremy was charged with a crime - hitting another patient - the prosecutor talked Jeremy into signing a plea deal sentencing him to eight years in prison. His crime? He hit another patient at a mental hospital, but caused no lasting injury. Get an inside view of life in solitary confinement, called "the hole." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEs3BQ0znAs
The sad truth is that sick U.S. citizens like Jeremy are used to boost profits for private prisons. Each inmate in the general prison population costs taxpayers up to $50,000 per year to warehouse, although 2/3 of them are non-violent offenders. Prison labor programs frequently use inmates to manufacture goods prison owners sell, and private prison stocks are traded on Wall Street. Mentally ill and dying inmates are even more lucrative for private prison owners.
Taxpayers pay up to $100,000 per year, per patient to warehouse acute mental patients, usually under cruel living conditions, often without adequate medical or psychiatric care. About 1.25 million inmates suffer mental illness, mostly as a result of closing mental hospitals and reducing services in communities. IT COSTS NO MORE FOR JEREMY TO BE TREATED IN A HOSPITAL THAN CRUELLY SUFFERING IN PRISON.
Jeremy has been in prison before for hitting someone. In fact, Jeremy spent FOUR YEARS in "the hole," a space no larger than a closet where he lived naked in solitary confinement 23 hours per day. When released from the hole, Jeremy had lost about 60 pounds, was too weak to stand on his own, and could not speak a complete sentence. Jeremy was so malnourished and traumatized after his torture that Gina thought he might die.
After being stabilized in the mental hospital, Jeremy was transferred to a facility nearer to his mother. As the new kid on the block, Jeremy was targeted by aggressive psychiatric patients. Jeremy again hit someone, and that is why Jeremy is again back in prison suffering in"the hole" where he has been for a year now. Gina has not heard directly from Jeremy in six months, and the prison refuses to allow her to see her sick son. A prison doctor reported to Gina in March 2009 that Jeremy is deteriorating, but psychiatric treatment is denied.
June 2009 update: Jeremy faces additional charges for making terrorist threats to a guard! California is a three-strikes state - Jeremy could get life in prison for doing no major crime. If so, taxpayers will be billed millions to mistreat this sick young man - money that CA needs for other things. This is what happens to mentally ill people who are criminalized. They often get additional time added to keep them longer and continue billing taxpayers. Again, the prosecutor offered Jeremy the opportunity to sign a PLEA DEAL on the new charge. All it takes for people like Jeremy to stay in prison is to withhold their medication and wait for them to respond irrationally.
1. The undersigned petitioners demand that the plea bargain Jeremy Smith signed that was used to condemn him to eight years in prison must be revoked because of his borderline retardation and acute mental illness. The power of attorney Gina has for her son must be fully honored.
2. We demand that mentally ill people be treated as hospital inpatients, not prison inmates. Sick people cannot be punished into a state of mental health.
3. We demand that since taxpayers are charged significantly more for the care of sick inmates, they must actually receive health care. Torture is not a part of their sentencing.
4. We request that California hospitalize violent mental patients, not imprison them. For mental patients like Jeremy Smith who have done no major crime, use Assisted Outpatient Treatment Programs. AOTs combine subsistence assistance and mandatory treatment and are proved to reduce hospitalization, arrests, and homelessness among New York program participants by over 85%. AOT programs promote public safety and are less expensive and more humane than incarcerating mentally challenged Californians.
California taxpayers could spend more than $3 million over Jeremy's lifetime to imprison rather than help this citizen. Prison profiteering hurts mental patients and their families as well as state budgets.
Thank you. ************** NOTE:PETITIONERS, please record the number beside your signature and check back frequently to see how support grows for Jeremy. Decriminalizing mental illness is a human rights effort that could reduce profit margins for some. You may contact Jeremy's mother by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org ~ If you can assist Gina and Jeremy in addition to supporting this petition, please let her know. This family is counting on YOU.
We, the undersigned, have heard horror stories about California's overcrowded prison system have reached the public. We are concerned about all inmates, but especially Jeremy Smith and other acute mental patients who are wrongfully condemned to prison rather than to hospitals or community care, depending on their offenses.
Jeremy Smith was coerced to sign a plea bargain sentencing him to eight years in prison in disregard of his severe mentally illness and his mother's power of attorney over him. Please use the power of your office, Governor, to overturn Jeremy Smith's conviction and remand him back to a mental hospital for continued treatment and care.
We appreciate your attention to this correspondence, and thank you in advance for your assistance.
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