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A closer look at five of the inmates profiled in "The New Asylums," with extra video.

photo of Anthony photo of clark photo of lewis

Bennie Anthony

Sigmon Clark

Jakuba Lewis

A 58-year old battling paranoid delusions and substance abuse, Anthony has been in and out of mental institutions and prison. He's been arrested on charges including assault and battery and vehicle theft, and he spent 16 years in prison for two charges of aggravated arson. Now that Anthony is paroled again in March 2005, there is hope that his participation in an innovative community reentry program will allow him to succeed outside prison walls.

A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, Clark was imprisoned for hitting a man over the head and stealing $180, and he was rearrested six days after he was paroled. Released with $75 and two weeks of medication, Clark and his story symbolize the overwhelming difficulty many mentally ill inmates have in trying to secure basic needs and manage their mental illness while reintegrating into the community.

On the day his parents had scheduled him for a psychiatric evaluation, Lewis shot and killed two friends and seriously injured a third, because, he says, the voices in his head convinced him that his friends were trying to kill him. But Lewis, who was later diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, was able to improve with medication and now is considered a rare success story.

 

photo of mceachron photo of tharp

Carl McEachron

Jerry Tharp

Imprisoned for theft, McEachron spent much of his time isolated in segregation because of behavior including spitting on staff and throwing body waste. It wasn't until after he had spent 13 years in prison that he was finally diagnosed as mentally ill. But McEachron disputes the diagnosis and says his behavior was a reaction to the unnatural, dehumanizing prison environment.

Tharp, convicted of stealing $116 from a pharmacy, is diagnosed with psychosis, borderline personality disorder and major mood depressive disorder, and he has self-mutilated and made one serious suicide attempt while in prison. As his scheduled parole date approached in November 2004, Tharp was not counting the days until his release, but rather listing the disturbing reasons why he should remain in prison.

 

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posted may 10, 2005

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