Charles Singleton (Cont’d)

An estimated 5 percent of the general US population suffers from mental illness.

However, a National Commission on Correctional Health Care report to Congress in March 2002 presented these shocking estimates of the prevalence of mental illness among prisoners on any given day:

  • 2.3-3.9 percent of inmates suffer schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder;
  • 13.1-18.6 percent have major depression;
  • 2.1-4.3 percent are suffering bipolar disorder (manic episode);
  • 8.4-13.4 percent have dysthymia (mild depression);
  • 22.0-30.1 percent suffer from an anxiety disorder;
  • 6.2-11.7 percent are victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.

These are indices of a virtual epidemic of mental illness, calling for a crisis intervention of medical and psychological professionals. They are also an expression of the tragic impact of a complex combination of social and economic factors—in no small way exacerbated by the stresses pervading American life.

However, the response on the part of police and judicial authorities to this crisis is to increasingly criminalize the mentally ill. Those who find their way to prison are often misdiagnosed and untreated. In a cruel twist, in Charles Singleton’s case, the authorities pushed for his “treatment” in order to send him to his death.

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Follow-up News:

Death Penalty and Mental Illness
(an overview)

The Disturbing Death of Charles Singleton
16 January 2004

Executed mentally ill inmate heard voices until end
7 January 2004

Charles Laverne Singleton, Appellant, v. Larry Norris, Director, Arkansas Department of Correction, Appellee
16 January 2002

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