In many county jails in Massachusetts, more than half the inmates struggle with some form of mental illness. County sheriffs say their jails have turned into psychiatric hospitals.
Inmates are prescribed drugs and might get counseling. And when things get really bad, they’re moved into suicide-watch cells. Lights on 24 hours and constant — or near-constant – supervision, either by camera or a jail officer’s eyeballs.
It’s the default practice for trying prevent suicides in county jails in the state. More than 5,000 inmates a year are put in suicide watch. But critics argue the practice is inhumane. And that it’s actually doing more harm than good.
Listen to Part 3 in our series below: