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Mentally Ill People Often Face Violence From Police - But These Cities Are Trying to Fix That

By Daniel Ross for Yes! Magazine

Brandy Brown was in her kitchen when she heard the gunshots.

“I thought it was fireworks at first. But I looked outside and I saw a police car down the street. My first instinct was to get my nephew inside the house,” she said.

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The Young Turks Discuss Our Series OverCriminalized

By Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks.

On November 13, 2014 The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discussed Brave New Films' short video series entitled OverCriminalized which explores why we are criminalizing homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. View the video below. 

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Homeless Flap Goes International

by Dennis Wyatt for Manteca Bulletin:

Manteca’s decision to outlaw public defecation and outlawing the homeless’ ability to set up encampments wherever they wish is drawing criticism from as far away as Alberta, Canada.

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Police Chief isn’t supposed to be the Patron Saint Of Homeless

by Dennis Wyatt for the Manteca Bulletin: 

Go ahead, slam Police Chief Nick Obligacion for his efforts to address the homeless/panhandling/public drug use issues in Manteca.

But while you’re calling him names, contending he’s heartless, plus say all he wants to do is issue tickets and drive the homeless out of Manteca as if he’s a modern-day St. Patrick, stop to consider a few things.

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Post Criticizing Manteca Homeless Ban Goes Viral

by Melinda Maza for KCRA Channel 3

MANTECA, Calif. (KCRA) —Manteca city leaders are receiving pressure to ease up on homeless restrictions after a post from a Facebook group went viral.

Thousands of people have already complained about the new ordinance that restricts homeless people from sleeping anywhere outdoors in Manteca.

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Post Draws International Attention to Manteca Homeless Policies

by Kay Recede for Fox 40: 

New laws for Manteca’s homeless population has gone viral and is putting the pressure on the city’s administration.

A Facebook post went live recently, and has drawn attention from people from as far as Canada — criticizing the city’s new law banning homeless encampments within the city. A plea on social media garners thousands of likes. Translate that into calls and criticism towards the City of Manteca and its laws on homelessness.

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This City Came Up With a Simple Solution to Homelessness: Housing

posted on Truthout.org: 

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.

After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not twenty-four hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.

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Can a ‘Homeless Bill of Rights’ End the Criminalization of LA’s Most Vulnerable Residents?

by John Thomason for The Nation:

“We are human beings who live here,” Silvia Hernández says emphatically.

She is speaking of Los Angeles’s notorious Skid Row, though she no longer lives there herself. Hernández doesn’t look back fondly on the year she spent nights alternating between streets and shelters, but she appreciates what she believes is a strong sense of community among neighborhood residents. “Now with this new idea of gentrification, they want to take it away,” she says of the business interests and developers remaking downtown, and the police and security officers who are doing their bidding. “They don’t recognize the community as a community.”

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Police Learn to Honor Mentally Ill Human Rights, Ending Excessive Force, Jail`

by Deborah Dupre for The Examiner:

Police have been using excessive force on mentally ill Americans and victims have become justifiably terrified they will be next to experience this human rights abuse that has turned into a $9 billion prison racket. One state, however, is implementing a new way to manage this abuse, according to news reports on Wednesday and Brave New Films has documented the disturbing old police ways as well as hopeful new results of police crisis intervention training.

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This City Came Up With a Simple Solution to Homelessness: Housing

By Kara Dansky for The Nation:

 

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.

After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not twenty-four hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.

Kilee has been cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for years. After three and a half years in prison, she’s been homeless for a little over a year now.

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Help, Not Incarceration

by Annie Wu for The Epoch Times:

NEW YORK—Anthony Cruz is a different man now that he has been locked up several times. 

Before serving his 10-year sentence in New York state prisons for manslaughter in the first degree he was diagnosed with adjustment disorder and depression, among other mental health conditions. Cruz spent a total of three years in solitary confinement, but he said he was denied help from mental health staff in prison. Unless he had suicidal thoughts, he wasn’t allowed to talk to a psychiatrist. 

 

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Why Does the US Rely on Prisons as the Main Treatment for the Mentally Ill?

by Michael Ham for Later On:  

Brave New Films has a series Over-Criminalized, the first part of which is a look at defining mental illness as a crime worthy of prison time. Another film in the series looks at how homelessness is also a crime in much of the US. It’s as if the state and federal government and policymakers, have decided that the police are best equipped to deal with social problems, by locking people away, much as in international affairs the US relies mostly on its military to deal with the challenges of international relations. If your primary reflex is armed response, every problem looks like an enemy and every approach to solving it is treated as a war.

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Why do Politicians spend $9 billion a year to Jail the Mentally Ill?

by Juan Cole for Informed comment:

“Instead of helping the mentally ill, police often put them behind bars. Watch how one police department is making a positive difference.

It’s simple. Diversion programs work better than incarceration – for everyone. In cities like Seattle, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City, we see that successful solutions are a viable option to help end serious social problems. These services alter the course of people’s lives in a positive way and save taxpayers huge amounts of money. We cannot continue to isolate and imprison people who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, or homelessness. We must treat them with compassion and care to better serve our communities and our pocketbooks.

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Here’s What Happened When Once City Gave Homeless People Shelter Instead of Throwing Them in Jail

by Paul Miller for Authentically Wired:

 

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.

After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not 24 hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.

Kilee has been cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for years. After three and a half years in federal prison, she’s been homeless for a little over a year now.

“Just because I don’t have a credit card in my pocket,” she says, “does not make me a criminal.”

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How to Stop Incarcerating the Mentally Ill and Start Helping Them

Overcriminalized Video posted on RH Reality Check:

Many people who struggle with a mental illness are unnecessarily arrested because police officers are not properly trained to handle a mental health crisis.OverCriminalized, produced by Brave New Films, details how the mentally ill are treated within the justice system, and one department’s answer to helping both police officers and those who struggle with a mental illness.

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Jail Doesn’t Help Addicts. Let’s Stop Sending Them There

by Kara Dansky for the ALCU:

 

Misti Barrickman has scoliosis. Since she was a teenager, it's been debilitating. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to stand up.

She started taking Oxycontin to help with the pain and became addicted. She came to Seattle to find large quantities of the drug. Unable to find it and feeling increasingly desperate, Misti tried what was readily available: heroin. For the next seven years, she struggled with addiction. She lived between a tent and a jail cell, racking up charges for possession and prostitution.

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What Happens When A City Decides to Offer Addicts Services, Not Prison Sentences?

By Aaron Cantu for The Nation:

For decades, the United States has tried to punish and shame people out of drug addiction with courts, jails and criminal records. It has been massively unsuccessful, as the nationwide rise in opiate addiction over the last few years demonstrates, and few people are more aware of its failure than the police officers tasked with arresting addicts.

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Why Are We Using Prisons to Treat the Mentally Ill?

posted on TruthOut:

OverCriminalized tackles how police handle mental health, substance abuse and homelessness.

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Jail Time Is a Terrible Way to Treat Substance Abuse

by Kara Dansky for The Nation:

 

Misti Barrickman has scoliosis. Since she was a teenager, it’s been debilitating. It hurt to lie down. It hurt to stand up.

She started taking Oxycontin to help with the pain and became addicted. She came to Seattle to find large quantities of the drug. Unable to find it and feeling increasingly desperate, Misti tried what was readily available: heroin. For the next seven years, she struggled with addiction. She lived between a tent and a jail cell, racking up charges for possession and prostitution.

Her story is too common.

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Substance Abuse Is a Public Health Issue - Not a Crime

Posted on TruthOut:

The "war on drugs" has caused more problems than it has solved since 1971. Now police have alternatives to incarceration that actually help people -and save money for the taxpayers.

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Here’s What Happens When One City Gave Homeless People Shelter Instead of Throwing Them In Jail

by AlterNet:

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight. After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not 24 hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.

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Mental Illness, Homelessness, Drug Addiction: Do These Sound Like Crimes?

By Mychal Denzel Smith for The Nation:

Kajieme Powell told the St. Louis police to shoot him. He told them repeatedly to shoot him, and the two police officers who were called to the scene quickly obliged. But they didn’t shoot him because he told them to. The official reason St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson gave for why the officers shot Powell—which they did at least nine times, including several shots fired after Powell had already fallen to the ground—was that Powell was carrying a knife and charged toward the two officers holding that knife with an overhand grip.

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OverCriminalized: Alternatives to Incarceration?

by George Lavender for In These Times:  

America's prisons and jails are filled with people arrested for crimes connected to homelessness, mental health issues, and drug addiction. “Overcriminalized,” a series of videos from Brave New Films launching today spotlights attempts to offer alternatives to incarceration in three cities: Salt Lake City, Utah, Seattle, Washington, and San Antonio, Texas.

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Three Cities Are Trying To Keep Low-Level Offenders Out Of Jail

by Saki Knafo for Huffington Post:

Jeannine Owens was afraid that her adult son was planning to set their home on fire. So she picked up the phone and dialed 911, as she’d done many times before with heartbreaking results. She’d seen the police clap her son into handcuffs and drag him off to jail, but this time, instead of barking orders at him, the cops lowered their voices and began to talk calmly.

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America Needs Community Mental Health Care

by Mary Silver for Epoch Times:

It’s mental illness awareness week. Here’s to mental health, and to resilience. Very few people with mental illness become the dreaded sniper in the tower, but our idioms and our movies would make you think they often do. 

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