Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill examines the fate of people with mental illness who tangle with a treacherous and unforgiving criminal justice system.Mary Beth Pfeiffer shows how people suffering from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and other mental illnesses are incarcerated simply because there is no viable alternative and then how they are punished again behind bars for behavior that is psychotic rather than criminal.
The stories are moving and tragic as Ms. Pfeiffer puts a face to the horrific problem that we are facing.
- The psychiatric odyssey of a 39-year-old Iowa woman with a history of 25 hospitalizations who blinded herself while locked in solitary confinement.
-- The suicides of an 18-year-old youth who was abandoned for eight weeks in a tiny cell in a California juvenile prison and a 21-year-old New York woman who had been repeatedly punished with confinement to the prison "box".
-- The deaths of two Florida men at the hands of untrained police who panicked in the face of psychosis.
-- The path that led to a jail cell and breakdown for a 24-year-old Texan whose only crimes were to be mentally ill and drug-addicted.
Pfeiffer's book is an indictment of a society that fails to provide decent mental health care to its most vulnerable citizens and then incarcerates them for often petty crimes, leaving them sicker and more damaged by the experience.Crazy In America Website