Ken Mascara has been the sheriff of St. Lucie County in Florida for the past 20 years. He has seen funding for mental health facilities plummet, and as a result, more and more mentally ill patients end up languishing behind bars. Now, he gives his Brief But Spectacular take on making county jails safer, and smarter.
It is going to take everyone, a village, the legislators, the governors, the presidents, and every day people like you and me to make the world a better place for foster children. As some of you already know from my past reports, more than 80% of the children placed in foster care are “prescribed psychotropic drugs to help them cope”. Once they age out statistics show that 75% of the aged-out youth end up incarcerated within two years. Often because they did not have access to the drugs they were prescribed as children, and they turn to street drugs. They have no family to support them. Most of the time family times are severed and children are moved away from anyone and everything they know. We have to do better!
In a related article: Fostered Or Forgotten? I mentioned that we have to stop the foster care to prison pipeline. When I wrote that it had came to my attention just how devasting and alone prisoners that grew up in foster homes, group homes, and juvenile detentions are. Many of them, when they age out, end up sitting in solitary confinement with no family to reach out to. No one to reach out to when the guards do give them five minutes a day or a month to make a phone call.
There are people sitting in jails and mental hospitals that do not even know who their family is or where they came from and public defenders and social workers “drop the ball”. Leaving them there with no one to advocate for them, and do you want to know how it almost always ends? It almost always ends in solitary confinement until they kill themselves or a jailer loses it and kills them.