The Shame of Our City

Week of November 14, 2001

Jail officials have to get serious: The Mental Health Association of Greater St. Louis has long been concerned that suicides continue to happen within the jail system. We met several months ago with local jail officials, purchased a jail-suicide-prevention curriculum and then sought funding to provide this training to all of the jail employees. To date, we have found no one interested in funding such training.

A large percentage of the people in the system should not be there. They have a mental illness, and, in all probability, their situation has been exacerbated by the unwillingness of the state of Missouri to provide proper funding for treatment. Notwithstanding the fact that the Department of Mental Health never requests full funding for our mental-health system, the prisoners have a double stigma: They are mentally ill and they are prisoners.

Our association requested that funding for a model program be included in the next DMH budget. Not only was it not included, DMH officials failed to respond to the request. When we sought federal funding earlier this year for a jail-suicide-prevention program, we could not get a letter of support from the city jail system, even though the mental-health community, Sheriff Glenn Boyer from Jefferson County and other officials endorsed it.

There have already been federal suits involving the withholding of medication from prisoners with resulting suicides. A Cape Girardeau family was awarded $781,000 for this practice. The family not only won the suit, they also sent a powerful message to the jail officials involved. I would advise Loretta and Willis Lloyd to find an attorney, file suit against the city of St. Louis and also file a federal civil-rights complaint against the city. Jails and prisons have an obligation to provide medical services to prisoners; to read that Mrs. Lloyd had to hand-carry medication to her son is outrageous.

Until city jail officials become serious about suicide prevention, the families, the prisoners and our society will suffer while people die needlessly in our jail.
James E. House II
Executive Director
Mental Health Association
of Greater St. Louis

Self-Made Man
I'm not waiting for a handout: Ray Hartmann, "This Modern World" and the rest of the ultraliberal bilge is why the Riverfront Times must give away its "news." Hartmann, you're an idiot! Why do you think the mostly Democratic-controlled Missouri population is leaving? Ray, people don't like the government unfairly overtaxing them. Seventeen percent sounds high to me. People who are achievers are not going to keep staying where they're getting ripped off. When liberals raise taxes, wealthy people and businesses don't keep spending, they cut spending and relocate to places like Florida, Nevada and Arizona -- or, worse, they close their American plants and reopen in places like Mexico.

When I become successful, I promise you, I will not own property anywhere in Missouri. I'm a libertarian. I believe in not waiting for the government to hand me shit! I make my own way.

The Riverfront Times does more harm than good when it seeks to punish success and makes excuses for lazy, criminal underachievers.
Byron Motley
St. Louis

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