Trapped: Mental Illness in America’s Prisons

Trapped: Mental Illness in America’s Prisons

A frightening look at how state prisons are turning into mental health facilities, without the resources to psychiatrically care for inmates.

The continuous withdrawal of mental health funding has turned jails and prisons across the nation into the default mental health facilities. The system designed for security is now trapped with treating mental illness and the mentally ill are often trapped inside the system with nowhere else to go. Documentary videographer Jenn Ackerman takes us inside the Correctional Psychiatric Treatment Unit of the Kentucky State Reformatory to see how a state is meeting the needs of this growing population.

This frightening look at inmates of a Kentucky psychiatric prison will make viewers wary of the treatment (or lack thereof) given to people who, unless they have life sentences, will return to live in our communities one day. With vanishing public funds for mental health care, state prisons are the new mental hospitals. In the main video (6:40) plus eight other video interviews with prisoners (ranging from 1:30 to 2:30 each), we experience the isolation and the deep psychic despair of these inmates.

Ackerman says, “I am continuing to build on this project and plan to produce a feature-length film by late 2009.”

College Photographer of the Year: Gold Medal winner, Multimedia Project

Photographs, video, audio, text: Jenn Ackerman