Mental Illness Behind Bars: Writer & Advocate Pete Earley

Aug 18, 2015

We talk with author Pete Earley, whose book “Crazy” examines how prisons and jails have become warehouses for people with mental illness. Earley describes his own struggle to help his bipolar son avoid incarceration, as well as the wider mental health system of a “revolving door” between hospitals and prisons.  

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  • Read the first chapter of Crazy: "If my son had broken his leg, most doctors would have agreed on the diagnosis and treatment. “Sir, your son’s leg is broken into two pieces, the bone needs to be reattached, the wound closed, and the body allowed to heal.” But that wasn’t what happened with Mike. One psychiatrist said he had bipolar disorder, another said he showed early stages of schizophrenia, a third said he had schizo-affective disorder. They prescribed a dizzying range of different drugs, different therapies, and, even worse, because he was an adult, I couldn’t simply swoop in and make medical decisions for him. An array of incompatible laws about patient rights stood in my way, like a line of trees."
  • Read Pete Earley's blog