(TW for death due to negligence)
A few days back I posted about mental health and incarceration and talked about some of the problems here in NYC’s own Riker’s Island jail. (which also happens to be one of the largest mental health facilities in the U.S. A jail.) In the past few days news has surfaced that another inmate (and by the way, a non-violent offender) in the mental observation unit due to a malfunctioning heating system that raised temperatures in his cell to 100 degrees, and general negligence, given that he was supposed to be checked on every 15 minutes.
Jerome Murdough was a homeless former Marine who was arrested for trespassing in mid-February when he sort refuge from the cold in a Harlem stairwell. You know, back when we were having those polar vortexes and all? Murdough was also diagnosed with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, and according to the story, was taking an anti-psychotic medication. Though it doesn’t say which one, a doctor is on record in the article as saying that one side-effect of it could be impairing the body’s ability to cool itself through sweating. This, in tandem with the system overheating in such an enclosed space, proved fatal for this man.
Why was an inmate on suicide watch, who was supposed to be checked up on every 15 minutes, not discovered for four hours? Why if this happened in February, has the story just surfaced now? Mental health care can be expensive by anyone’s standards, but when the mentally ill are from what gets called the “indigent population”, the poor and homeless, society views us as expendable. Even more so. This type of negligence has got to stop!
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(In the U.S. anyway.)