Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Making the Move to Jail...

By Brittany Ricker

Moving forward with my thesis research on psychiatric hospitals I came across an interesting (pretty intense) article giving the blunt, honest and rather eye opening truth about the Cook County Jail. In February 2012, The New York Times published “Psychiatric Patients with No Place to Go but Jail” ( which went into detail about the 11,000 prisoners housed within the jail at any given time. Cook County Sheriff, Thomas J Dart, “estimated that about 2,000 of them suffer from some form of serious mental illness”. Mr. Dart went on to explain “the system is so screwed up that I’ve become the largest mental health provider in the state of Illinois”. The most absurd part of this whole situation is that the city plans to shut down 6 of its 12 mental health centers by end of April 2012. According to Huffington Post, “those closures stand to save the state nearly $20 million, according to CBS. But some community members and activists say the move could generate more costs in the future”. Julie Gale from McHenry, Illinois wrote:
 As I’m trying to connect the dots as to why these hospitals would be forced to close, statistics, Gov. Pat Quinn and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s reasoning behind these closures despite having a back-up plan…. I decided to actually visit the Cook County website and see if there was any details there…. I will say that I was quite shocked to see anything about mental health but I was even more surprised to see the front page of the website pointing out the crisis.… (Shown below is a picture of the statistics and front page of the Cook County Sheriff website)
With all of this said, from what I have seen most of the older hospitals are run down and do need improvements BUT to close psychiatric facilities with no back-up in place is ridiculous. No good will come from this even if the Governor and Mayor believe this will save over $20 million dollars…and then what? Put it back into the prisons to get more security from all these new “visitors”? INSTEAD of pushing money back into the health care or even children schools….
In relation to the design thesis I will be using these statistics to back up my decision for my site location to be in the heart of Chicago, Illinois. A main reason I was hesitant to pick a Chicago site was the fact that I recently just had a site near the United Center…BUT no matter what this site will be 100% different and offer new areas to explore. Also, Chicago offers a great opportunity to introduce a new idea for a psychiatric facility due to the fact there is this huge dilemma happening as we speak. Proposals have been introduced for new hospitals/clinics/improvements BUT will these actually happen and if funding was such an issue before…where will this funding come from for all these new developments? I am excited to jump back into this after a short but sweet winter break and I’m sure I will be posting more about my progress along the way!!! 

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