Under Fire for Negligence, North Carolina Prisons Chief Seeks New Funding for Mental Health Treatment

North Carolina corrections chief David Guice wants more than $20 million to improve the treatment of people with mental illness in the state’s prisons. His request comes on the heels of two recent reports showing neglect and abuse of prisoners with psychiatric disabilities in North Carolina, and the death in custody of one such individual, Michael Anthony Kerr. According to autopsy report findings released in September, Kerr died last March of dehydration after being held in solitary confinement for 35 days.
Guice heads up the state’s prison system as commissioner of the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. His request was made last Thursday at a meeting of the state’s Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Justice and Public Safety, held to discuss North Carolina’s treatment of prisoners suffering from mental illnesses.
At the meeting, Guice cited the difficulties in providing adequate care for 4,600 people – 12 percent of the total prison population – requiring mental health services. The prison system wants the state’s upcoming budget to include funding for more than 300 additional mental health care staff statewide, 64 more for Central Prison’s mental health unit, and 76 probation officers.

North Carolina, Mental illness and the Death Penalty

————-From the Equal Justice Initiative Newsletter————
5.26.10

Greetings,

North Carolina’s slogan is ‘first in flight’ but will it one day take on the title of ‘first in fairness’? 

Last year the state passed the groundbreaking Racial Justice Act, designed to counteract the unfair influence of racism in death penalty cases. Now it is considering a bill that would exempt people with mental illness from the death penalty.
Bill and David in North Carolina
Mental illness can prevent defendants from understanding their charges, participating in their own defense and ultimately getting a fair trial. With limited help and services available, mental illness can become a nightmare for families and a threat to public safety. No one knows that better than David Kaczynski and Bill Babbit. Find out why in this issue of the EJEdition…