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Mental Illness a Frequent Cell Mate for Those Behind Bars
Date:4/6/2013

h helps individuals re-enter society after prison.

"We couldn't get people into mental-health treatment in the community when it was available, and it's less available than it used to be," Page said.

In 2011, the Fortune Society, which already provided housing and other services for ex-offenders, opened its Better Living Center, which they said is the first agency in New York City to cater exclusively to individuals with a criminal history.

"Most of our people come to us after their release when we have a window of time," Page said. "There's a hopefulness that things could be different. It's a wonderful time to work with people if you give them a fighting chance."

It is through this Better Living Center that King got his chance. He now takes medication every day and sees a therapist weekly for bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

"I have access to excellent mental-health treatment now and I'm also mindful of the fact that there are [many] prison inmates who could benefit from the same level of care, or something close to it," King said. "Last week was my last day on parole. Over 25 years, I have been living on this cloud either in prison or on supervision. I am no longer. I am totally free."

More information

The U.S. Department of Justice has more on the mental-health problems of inmates.

SOURCES: Eugene King, New York City; Jason Schnittker, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Spencer Eth, M.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; JoAnne Page, president and CEO, the Fortune Society, New York City; December 2012 Journal of Health and Social Behavior


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