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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 14, 2014 / 14 Nissan, 5774

US Prison System Needs a Total Makeover

By Diane Dimond




JewishWorldReview.com | It is way past time to overhaul the U.S. prison system. I'm not talking about a little tweak here and there. I'm talking about throwing a massive metaphorical hand grenade into the entire system and starting over from scratch. We should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing the system to have morphed into what it has.

Why should you care about this? Well, because you're paying for it. Between states and the federal government, the U.S. spends about $74 billion a year housing, feeding, providing health care (such as it is in prison) for inmates and supervising the newly released.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in 2012 there were nearly 7 million Americans under the supervision of adult correctional systems. Translated: One in every 108 adults in the United States was incarcerated, a per-capita world record.

The problem, as I see it, centers on who we are locking up. The Washington Post reports that only one percent of them are in for murder. Four percent are serving time for robbery. The most serious charge against 51 percent of them is a drug offense.

But here is the most startling, heart-wrenching statistic of them all. According to a Justice Department study, more than half of the prisoners in the U.S. suffer from a bona fide mental illness. Among female inmates, about three-quarters have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Why in the world are we locking up the mentally ill in the same place we house violent and predatory criminals? The answer is simple. Because there is nowhere else to put the "crazy people," so we put them in jail after they act out. Many times, their families have spent years begging for mental health care for their disturbed loved one to no avail. And sometimes, the "crazy people" deliberately commit crimes knowing they will be housed, fed and minimally medicated in lockup.

Back in the mid-'50s, psychotropic drugs such as Thorazine were found to be so successful in quelling mental patients' delusions and agitation that within a decade, society decided it was cruel to continue to institutionalize them. The abuse of patients and unsanitary conditions found at some mental hospitals were ascribed to all such institutions, so we closed them down. Patients were given a prescription for their meds and told they were "free." No one seemed to notice that the planned community mental health centers never materialized, and when one of these former patients had a problem, there were very few places they could go for help.

The pattern continues to this day. There are simply not enough mental health beds to service everyone who needs help. Today, commitment is difficult and, sadly, we have to wait for the mentally ill to actually commit a crime before the state steps in. In the last few years, many of America's mass murders were committed by untreated mentally ill people who should have been in a mental health care facility for their protection and for ours.


It's ironic, isn't it? The very society that once agreed it was unjust to lock people up in mental hospitals now allows the mentally disturbed to be locked up in much more dangerous jails and prisons.

We have turned our backs on these folks, and our prisons have become de facto psychiatric facilities. We have decided that these are throwaway human beings and we embrace the idea that being mentally sick is a crime. Our children and grandchildren are going to look back and wonder what was wrong with us.

I could fill this entire page with quotes from wardens describing the horror of what happens to sufferers of schizophrenia, bi-polar disorders and other mental illnesses once they enter prison. But the ugly truth is that some of those same wardens employ practices that create even more disturbed individuals.

The widespread use of solitary confinement in prisons has been shown to have a tremendously negative effect. Mostly because inmates — be they habitually violent, in danger from other prisoners or simply a rule breaker — are often held for months and even years in isolation. Do you know what being locked up, alone, for years at a time does to the human mind?

According to Dr. Stuart Grassian, a veteran psychiatrist from Harvard who is considered an expert on the effects of solitary confinement, prolonged seclusion only leads inmates to exhibit more impulsive and violent behavior.

"Ninety-five percent of these people will get out and be released back on the streets," Grassian said on a National Geographic documentary. "All isolation will have done is make them as violent, crazy and dangerous as possible when they get out."

So how long does the system continue doing what we know doesn't work? When do the priorities shift away from warehousing chronic drug addicts with the hope that they will somehow cure themselves by their release date? When do we stop thinking it is morally defensible to house the mentally ill alongside career gang-bangers, rapists and killers? And, what will it take to convince prison administrators to reject the rage-filling practice of prolonged solitary confinement?

Look, I'm not advocating letting anyone out of prison. I'm suggesting it's way past time to take a fresh look at revolutionary new ways to spend that $74 billion every year.

How about we start with a plan that separates the hard-core, habitual criminals from the mentally sick and persistently addicted? Keep the first group in a standard prison setting. Then, turn some of our prisons into psychiatric centers to help the more fragile inmates. The past confirms that an overwhelming majority of those who suffer from mental illness and addiction are not violent. They are lost souls who could possibly get their lives set straight if exposed to the right therapies and medications.

I'm embarrassed that we have adopted a toss-and-forget attitude about so many of our weakest citizens. Prison is not where they belong and it certainly isn't where they will ever learn to become contributing members of society again. By continuing our current policies we ensure only one thing: America's per-capita standing as the world's No. 1 jailer.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Investigative journalist and syndicated columnist Diane Dimond has covered all manner of celebrity and pop culture stories.

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© 2014, Creators Syndicate.

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