People with disabilities are disproportionately arrested, sentenced for longer periods of time, and make up almost a third of the American prison population. Check out their stories from behind bars through our collaboration with the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) Jail Project.
On The Outs follows three inmates with various disabilities, including vision impairment, brain injury, and mental illness, through all stages of the reentry process. The documentary depicts each person’s experience at three points: in prison prior to release, on their release date, and life on the “outs” after release.
Marc Moreno was 18 years old when he died in the Benton County Jail in Washington State. Why didn’t Marc received proper treatment for his mental illness while in jail? How did the system fail him even before he was arrested? Why did Marc Moreno die?
When the AVID Jail Project first began regularly visiting King County Correctional Facility (KCCF) last year, we had no idea that the jail was forcibly medicating some inmates. Then, one day while doing rounds in solitary confinement, we met Dwayne Stelivan. Mr. Stelivan spoke calmly and clearly about his mental health history and his experiences both inside and outside of jail. On the outside, he worked regularly with a doctor to make decisions about his treatment, including whether to take antipsychotic medications. But at KCCF, he told us, the decision was made for him.
When Ricardo Rodriguez attempted to harm himself while incarcerated, the jail responded by punishing him, instead of addressing his mental health needs. When the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID) Jail Project brought this issue to the jail, they responded in a surprising way.
While in jail, Tallon Satiacum was denied medication he needed, then punished time after time for behavior related to symptoms of his mental illness.
One day you’re in minimum security, the next you’re in solitary confinement. You’re released before you receive treatment, and you’re back in jail again before you know what hit you. That’s what 24-year-old Siyad Shamo has experienced in the jails in King County, Washington. Inconsistencies in how jails treat people with mental illness drives the cycle that sees the same people come in and out, year after year.
People with mental illness in jail tell their stories.
Jails have become de facto psychiatric centers, and people with mental illness who are being detained often without treatment have disturbing stories to tell. Rooted in Rights, in partnership with the AVID Jail Project, shares these stories to bring attention to the crisis of mental health in our criminal justice system. More importantly, we hope that these stories will humanize an issue that is all too easily ignored. These are the voices of citizens with mental illness. We will continue to visit jails and release these videos, so please follow our efforts and share them with others.