The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Los Angeles County Detains Mentally Ill under Barbaric Conditions

Sep 26, 2022

Although 40% of Los Angeles County’s jail inmates have been diagnosed with mental illness, the jail detains them for extended periods without providing proper treatment or medicines or transferring them to a state hospital. Considering that this largest county jail in the U.S. cycles about 120,000 inmates each year, the jail imprisons a vast number of mentally ill people.

The county jail uses all kinds of excuses to detain them. For example, it deems these inmates as “incompetent” to stand for trial because they cannot understand why they are suspected of a crime and imprisoned. But the jail keeps them in prison without any trial and denies any treatment for their mental illness. Such inhumane imprisonment is a complete trap.

The conditions in the jails are horrific. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies regularly chain mentally ill inmates to chairs for days or leave them to sleep on a concrete floor without bedding. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the jail routinely fails to provide clean water, functioning toilets, adequate food, and a shower to these inmates. Medications the mentally ill detainees need for treating diseases such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or chronic PTSD are also not routinely provided.

"You can’t get out. They just declare you incompetent. There’s no bail. There’s nothing", said Haasjes, one of the mentally ill inmates jailed for more than a year. The county finally released him thanks to his cousin, a retired social worker, who testified about his lack of care before state lawmakers and had several court orders issued.

In this society run in the interests of the capitalist class, those people whom this system can’t exploit or make a profit off of are discarded, thrown away and warehoused in jails under conditions straight out of the Dark Ages. Such policies show how barbaric capitalist society truly is.