Federal Bureau of Prisons Is Failing To Provide Decent Mental Health Care. It Needs To Participate In Reform Efforts. NOW!

(12-10-18) The federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is not participating in the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC) – a panel created by Congress to implement better mental health care in our country.

This is a mistake.

A Justice Departmental study found that as high as 45 percent of all federal prisoners have a diagnosable mental illness. The Washington Post recently published a study by The Marshall Project that faulted the  BOP’s treatment of inmates with mental illnesses. This troubling study is simply the most recent in a long string of exposes that have documented abuses and failures in the federal system.

How can the federal government work to improve mental health services nationally if it can’t clean up its own house?

In the late 1980s, I spent two years off-and-on inside the U.S. Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas watching everyday events unfold. I was doing research for my best selling book, The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison.  What I discovered then is still true today. The BOP operates largely as an island within the U.S. Department of Justice free from interference by its leaders.

It’s time for the U.S. Attorney General to direct the BOP to begin participating in the five year, congressionally mandated ISMICC process.


Inside federal prisons’ dangerous failure to treat inmates with mental-health disorders

Story by Christie Thompson and Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge | The Marshall Project, first published in The Washington Post

Click to continue…

Your State Can Get More Federal Medicaid $$$ for Mental Health: Is It?


(12-5-18) (Thanks to NAMI Cambridge/Middlesex for having me speak last night. It was a wonderful evening and rewarding for me to meet with such dedicated advocates.)

Want to improve mental health services in your community? Get more dollars for treatment. Here’s how you can.

With significant prompting from the 14 non-federal members of the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC), the Trump Administration recently announced that states can apply for Medicaid waivers. The waivers will permit states to begin receiving federal Medicaid payments for mental health treatment delivered in inpatient settings known as IMDs, or institutions of mental disease.

This is a significant policy shift and D.J. Jaffe, Executive Director of  Mental Illness Policy Org., is urging readers to ask Medicaid Directors in each of their states to apply for the IMD waivers.

National Alliance on Mental Illness CEO Mary Giliberti led the non-federal ISMICC members efforts to obtain Medicaid funding. (Full disclosure: I serve as the parent member on the ISMICC panel and signed the letter requesting the policy change.)

Here’s the information that Advocate Jaffe has posted, including a sample letter to use.

How to Make New Housing & Hospitals Available for Mentally Ill

Blog originally written by D.J. Jaffe, author of Insane Consequences: How The Mental Health Industry Fails The Mentally Ill

Great news:

The federal government just made it easier for your state to expand housing and hospitalization options for the seriously mentally ill.  But we have to act fast. The new policy allows states to use Medicaid money to pay for some hospitalization and housing that was previously prohibited.

However, in order to use Medicaid to expand housing and hospitals in your state, the state Medicaid Director has to apply for a waiver.

Click to continue…

Dogs Left Outside In Cold Makes News In Omaha, But Not Homeless Elderly Woman

(12-4-18) Speaking tonight.

I’m thrilled to be speaking tonight at the annual meeting of NAMI Cambridge/Middlesex Chapter! The meeting is being held at the Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA, between 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.. Please attend if you can.

Good Samaritan In Omaha Defends Her Decision To Help Homeless Elderly Woman

Good morning, Pete – I read the blog post from the writer commenting on our situation. I would like to point out a few differences in the two situations. 

Our situation is certainly not a case of DIY charity. We have not invited this woman into our home or given her money because we believe that is a deterrent from getting her the help she truly needs.  Also, to the writer’s point, one must be careful. Sadly, there are others that need help that we do not feel safe to allow in our vehicles. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t entitled to help, though.

 We thought that by putting this woman in the hands of the agency that she would get the helps she needs. The agency whose website states that they focus on services for mental illness and homelessness. The agency that receives federal funds to provide these services. 

Click to continue…

Reader Says Good Samaritan In Omaha Is Putting Herself in Danger Trying To Help Homeless Woman

(12-3-18) On my blog last Monday, a Good Samaritan described the barriers that she and her husband have encountered when attempting to find shelter for a homeless elderly woman in Omaha. Most of the comments on Facebook and those sent to me lauded her determined efforts. But the writer of this note felt otherwise.

Dear Mr. Earley,

I find it shocking that this couple in Omaha are getting involved so heavily with Geraldine. (The elderly homeless woman described in last week’s blog.)  They are putting themselves in grave danger without understanding the risks involved.

I made the mistake of befriending a polite young man of 18 who came from a broken home – abandoned by his mother at 6, raised by grandmother, but lived in a trashed out house with an alcoholic father who did not parent him.

I thought his issues were primarily caused by poverty.  My wife and I treated him like he was a grandson, since we have no grandchildren.  I helped him write a resume and get a real job.  He ate at our table, and I took him on several vacation trips.

Bad idea.

Click to continue…

Speaking In Manhattan Tomorrow: Please Join If You Are In Big Apple Area

(11-28-18) Eager to speak in Manhattan. Hope you can attend if you are in the area. And thank you Rabbi Joel Mosbacher for making this happen. 

An Evening With Pete Earley, Mental Health Advocate

Thursday, November 29 | 7:00PM | Temple Shaaray Tefila, 250 East 79th Street

Join Pete Earley, mental health advocate and New York Times best-selling author, to hear about the personal experiences which came to inspire his book Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness as a father fighting for his child and journalist in search of a better way in the “revolving doors” between hospitals and jails.

This event is hosted by Temple Shaaray Tefila, and sponsored in partnership with Manhattan Together/Metro IAF, a local faith-based organizing network of which BJ is a member. Manhattan Together is working to address issues of mass incarceration, especially the mis-incarceration of those with mental illness.

Call main line for information  212-535-8008

Click to continue…

Couple Tries To Help Elderly Homeless Woman In Omaha: Met With Suspicion, Broken Promises

(11-26-18) Why do we make it so difficult to help others? Here’s an email that I recently received. I have verified its facts.

Dear Pete,

I am writing from a possibly different perspective than you normally receive. My husband and I are trying to help an elderly person whom we did not know before helping her. I say trying to help her because we have not been successful thus far.  

While my story is about one woman, there are others whom I see everyday that are homeless and psychotic roaming our streets in Omaha. When walking my dog last week, we encountered a man who believed he was Jesus Christ. Another man with him said he was the Son of Satan. Both told me that they have been banned from shelters because they are insane. 

I’d like to introduce you to Geraldine. (Note from Pete. I elected to use a pseudonym but was told the woman’s actual name.)

Click to continue…