FRONTLINE: The Released
Each year, hundreds of thousands of prisoners with serious mental illnesses are released into communities across America. Typically, mentally ill offenders leave prison with a bus ticket, $75 (about £50) and medication to last for two weeks. Within 18 months, nearly two-thirds are re-arrested.
In this follow up to the film The New Asylums, FRONTLINE examines what happens to the mentally ill when they leave prison and why they return at such alarming rates. One example is Bennie Anthony, 61. Diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic in 1974, he has a history of alcohol and drug abuse. Over four decades he has repeatedly cycled in and out of hospitals and prisons. In recent years, as hospital treatment for the mentally ill grew scarce, jail or prison has frequently ended up as the place where Bennie gets treatment for his illness.
The stories of Bennie and other released patients, along with interviews with parole officers, social workers, and psychiatrists, provide a rare look at the lives of the mentally ill as they struggle to stay out of prison and reintegrate into society.
The Released: Tuesday 3rd January at 10.15pm