This was originally published on Liberal America on September 16, 2016.
A mentally ill man in Milwaukee was left to die in solitary confinement after being arrested, the Freethought Project reported. He was crying out for water, and no one came to help him. Terril Thomas, 38, was sent to jail after a shooting incident. He is bipolar and was experiencing a mental breakdown. His family told the police to take him into custody. The police should’ve done their jobs and protected him.
Obviously, he deserved to go to jail, but he deserved justice and treatment. He died in his cell just three days before his competency hearing. The Milwaukee sheriff’s office declined to comment until the investigation is complete. The death was ruled a homicide. Supposedly, he had flooded his cell before, so his water tap was turned off. He should’ve been sent to treatment.
The way we treat mental health patients is appalling. They should not be sent to jail, but that’s where many adults end up because there are not enough beds in many cities.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) has a particularly demeaning and dehumanizing way of handling mentally ill people who are in crisis. They use “restraining bags,” which look like body bags made of mesh.
It is absolutely disgusting. The person’s entire head is covered; this would likely traumatize someone who is already experiencing a crisis. The fear and pain involved with a psychiatric crisis is nothing you can imagine. Putting someone in a bag is just appalling.
The man filming the video said:
“This is the craziest s–t I’ve ever seen done to somebody in my whole f–king life. Holy s–t. What do you call that thing?”
“Never in my life have I seen anything like this. What the f–k is wrong with you people? There’s a man in that bag like an animal.”