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The New Asylums: Jails Swell With Mentally Ill
The Wall Street Journal

The sound of clanging steel doors and agitated voices in the Cook County Jail bullpen was deafening. Amid the din, Robert Miller, who would turn 19 the next day, wept quietly. Anger and sullenness were common here. Uncontrolled crying was a sign of a bigger problem.

Mr. Miller was being held on a drug-possession charge and was waiting for his day in court. But his anguish caught the attention of a woman on the other side of the bars. Elli Petacque Montgomery, the jail’s chief clinical social worker, listened as Mr. Miller spoke and shuddered. The teenager, who disputes the drug charge, said he had tried in vain to get help for his disabling episodes. Twice, he said, he had attempted suicide.
Ms. Montgomery scribbled notes on a clipboard. At the jail, she routinely sees people with conditions ranging from severe depression to schizophrenia.

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