Re "Prison tactics found horrific" (Page A1, April 11): We have 33,000 mentally ill inmates in prison who are being treated badly. Presumably these folks have all committed felonies and were mentally ill before they did so. Would it not be better for them and cheaper for society to treat these illnesses before they become felons.
Before Reagan, we had a state mental health system which dealt with these folks in a more humane environment than State prison. When it was dismantled we were told that drugs and local services would replace it. The result, some 30+ years on, is a glut of mentally ill people on our streets and in our prisons.
There must be a better and cheaper way to help these individuals - preferably before they become felons. The money saved in the courts and prisons would, I believe, more than pay for a serious upgrade in the effectiveness of our mental health programs.
-- Michael Lynn, Carmichael