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International CURE (Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants), a grassroots prison reform organization with consultative status by the United Nations is very pleased with the announcement by Speaker Paul Ryan that the House of Representatives will vote on prison reform legislation in September.
“However, we are very disappointed that the Republican platform, so far, does not even mention prison reform.” commented Charles Sullivan, President of CURE. “Perhaps, with the selection of Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana as the Republican nominee for Vice-President, this may change,” Sullivan continued.
During Gov. Pence’s recent term as the top executive over the state prison system, he saw a substantial increase of the warehousing of the mentally ill. This was especially true of women who were imprisoned.
Litigation, however, forced the Indiana Department of Corrections to improve its facilities and services for mentally ill in prison.
Also, the documentary of Jailing Princola: A Hopeless ending for a Mentally Ill Teenager by the Indianapolis Star showed that prisons especially for women have become the dumping ground for the mentally ill.
Finally, the Nelson Mandela Rules calls for July 18, this Monday – Mandela’s birthday – to be known as Mandela Prisoner Rights Day, which will promote humane conditions of confinement and raise awareness of prisoners as a continuing part of society.
Rule 109 of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules) passed by all countries including the United States state the following:
“Persons who are found to be not criminally responsible, or who are later diagnosed with severe mental disabilities and/or health conditions, for whom staying in prison would mean an exacerbation of their condition, shall not be detained in prisons, and arrangements shall be made to transfer them to mental health facilities as soon as possible.”
Certainly, Gov. Pence’s administration at least indirectly brought about solutions in his state and we encourage him and the Republican Party to make this most needed reform of decriminalizing mental illness a priority of the campaign.