Investigative reporter Pfeiffer takes a critical look at the lack of treatment for the mentally ill that often lands them in prison, where their behavior is misinterpreted and they are vulnerable to abuse by other prisoners. Profiling six such people, Pfeiffer examines the circumstances that led to their incarceration, the inadequacy of plans upon their release, and the strains on their families. Among her subjects is Shayne, a schizophrenic who has been institutionalized since the age of 14 for mental illness and drug addiction and was jailed for a time for stabbing the local sheriff; she eventually blinds herself by plucking out her eyes. Luke, who suffers bipolar disorder, lands in a Texas prison after his behavior escalates into violence and drug abuse. Pfeiffer intersperses her reports of the facts of her subjects' lives with communications from them to their families, highlighting the growing confusion and pleas for help. Pfeiffer puts her subjects in the broader context of the nation's woeful lack of concern for treating the mentally ill. Bush, Vanessa Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
About the Author
Mary Beth Pfeiffer is a Soros Justice Media Fellow who has written articles on prison conditions and the treatment of mentally ill inmates for numerous publications. A journalist for twenty-five years, she has been an investigative writer and editor for the Poughkeepsie Journal for the last decade. Her prison reporting has won her two National Headliners Awards, an Outstanding Achievement Award, a national Council on Crime and Celinquency citation, and six awards from the state Associated Press and state Publishers Association. In 2004 she was awarded a fellowship from the Open Society Institute to research articles on the imprisoned mentally ill.