Life after prison is extremely difficult for the mentally ill. The PBS publication The Released documents how people who suffer from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia have a tremendously hard and often unsuccessful time with managing life after being released from prison. For schizophrenics like Jerry Tharp, sometimes even just the act of living is a hurdle. In the documentary, Jerry admitted to having harmed himself multiple times and tried more than once to take his own life. In prison however, Jerry was able to control his schizophrenia through monitored medication. After serving 10 years for aggravated robbery, he was paroled. Three months later he stopped taking his medication and was sent back to jail for robbing a pharmacy. Jerry is just one of hundreds of cases where mentally ill patients return to prison after being released.
Nearly all mentally ill inmates who are released from prison return within a very short time. When patients are released, they have no good support system to encourage the continuation of their medication or the adjustment to civilian life. They are often released with only a couple weeks worth of medication and have no way of paying or receiving more. Inmates who have served max time are worse off than inmates who are released with parole because they are not monitored or checked upon. Homelessness is often a cycle for the mentally ill. When homeless, they are not reminded or encouraged to take their medication and their symptoms often return. While some patients suffer silently alone, others experience symptoms which drive them to commit another crime and send them back to prison. This cycle is an example of why deinstitutionalization does not work.
Patients who suffer from severe mental disorders, such as paranoid schizophrenia, need constant monitoring and daily therapy in order to function in a normal capacity. Facilities such as Bridge View allow people to live amongst other mentally ill patients...