Defend rights of mentally ill
THE EDITOR, Sir:
I am writing to express my concerns about the recent incident at the Barnett Street Police Station, where Mario Deane was allegedly set upon and savagely beaten to death by two mentally ill persons.
The reports also stated that these mentally ill men had been detained in the general lock-up, where hardened criminals are kept, for an unknown period of time.
My concerns are as follows: Why were mentally ill persons put in the same lock-up as other inmates? Were these mentally ill men seen and assessed by any of the mental-health professionals during this time? Was any attention paid to the mental status and human rights of these persons (the most vulnerable of our society) before it was alleged that they were the perpetrators of the vicious and fatal beating of Mario Deane?
It is quite obvious that once again, mentally ill persons are victims of a society where there is no social safety net and where they have no voice and their human rights are trampled by a very sick and fractured system.
Through this medium, the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill calls upon the public defender, who is the advocate and defender of the poor and voiceless in this country.
If the public defender is not asking questions and defending the most vulnerable, who will?
It is not only Mario Deane and the mentally ill men who were incarcerated who are the victims. It is all Jamaicans who can be detained and suffer in this way without regard for human rights and justice.
Yesterday, it was Mario and the mentally ill who were caught up in this vicious system. Today, or tomorrow, who will be the next victim? Please, Mr Public Defender, defend the rights of the mentally ill and the underprivileged people in our beloved Jamaica.
JOY CROOKS (OD)
Nurse Administrator, CUMI