We'll file this one in the Annals of the Obvious... but the Associated Press reports that 20% of Connecticut's prison population of 19,000 criminals have "moderate to severe" mental illness.
That's terrific news for liberal Democrats who are forever looking for ways to empty our prisons through compassion, excuses and second chances. It is also wonderful to them because they think it's an opportunity for more social spending.
Some of these liberal state legislators are apparently making the case now that more psychiatric nurses are needed, more correction training is needed, and (naturally) a whole new separate facility should be built, fully staffed, for those incarcerated with mental illness.
"If you want to free up prison beds [to keep violent offenders behind bars longer], then get these mentally ill people out of there," said Judiciary co-chair Representative Michael Lawlor (D-East Haven).
Since when is it news that we have crazy people in prison? I'm actually surprised it isn't more than 20%. Look at Charles Manson... he carved a swastika in his face, speaks gibberish and does the chicken dance whenever he gets a TV interview... he's about as mentally ill as it gets. The people of California aren't freeing up his prison bed and getting him "help." He's staying in jail where he belongs. And so should the nuts in jail here in Connecticut.
On Monday Judiciary chairs Lawlor and Senator Andrew McDonald convened an "emergency" meeting to evaluate the impact of Governor Rell's recent halting of paroles, specifically to the question of whether this would over-burden the prison system. Surely now they could let some criminals out!
Corrections Commissioner Theresa Lantz didn't give them the answers they had hoped for. "We're not in a crisis. I'm not asking for more resources," she testified.
When Republican House and Senate members called for tougher action on Connecticut's parole laws, enactment of a stronger "Three Strikes" law, and to have serious offenders wear global positioning devices as a term of their release, Democrats wanted to take their time with the issue... mull it over... maybe do something next session. In the meantime, they are groping for ways to let criminals out of jail.
So now we know that 20% of Connecticut prison inmates are mentally ill. Big deal. About 63% of the General Assembly are crazy too. I say we release them after they have served their two-year term.