Monday, April 8, 2013

Associated Press: What Can Be Said About Mental Illness In Media Reports?

Entry on mental illness is added to AP Stylebook

March 7, 2013
The Associated Press today added an entry on mental illness to the AP Stylebook.

“It is the right time to address how journalists handle questions of mental illness in coverage,” said AP Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll. “This isn’t only a question of which words one uses to describe a person’s illness. There are important journalistic questions, too.

“When is such information relevant to a story? Who is an authoritative source for a person’s illness, diagnosis and treatment? These are very delicate issues and this Stylebook entry is intended to help journalists work through them thoughtfully, accurately and fairly.”

The entry, which was immediately added to the AP Stylebook Online and will appear in the new print edition and Stylebook Mobile, published in the spring, reads as follows:

mental illness
Do not describe an individual as mentally ill unless it is clearly pertinent to a story and the diagnosis is properly sourced.

When used, identify the source for the diagnosis. Seek firsthand knowledge; ask how the source knows. Don’t rely on hearsay or speculate on a diagnosis. Specify the time frame for the diagnosis and ask about treatment. A person’s condition can change over time, so a diagnosis of mental illness might not apply anymore. Avoid anonymous sources. On-the-record sources can be family members, mental health professionals, medical authorities, law enforcement officials and court records. Be sure they have accurate information to make the diagnosis. Provide examples of symptoms.

Mental illness is a general condition. Specific disorders are types of mental illness and should be used whenever possible: He was diagnosed with schizophrenia, according to court documents. She was diagnosed with anorexia, according to her parents. He was treated for depression.

Some common mental disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (mental illnesses or disorders are lowercase, except when known by the name of a person, such as Asperger’s syndrome):

- Autism spectrum disorders. These include Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism. Many experts consider autism a developmental disorder, not a mental illness.
- Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness)
- Depression
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Schizophrenia

Here is a link from the National Institute of Mental Health that can be used as a reference:

Do not use derogatory terms, such as insane, crazy/crazed, nuts or deranged, unless they are part of a quotation that is essential to the story.

Do not assume that mental illness is a factor in a violent crime, and verify statements to that effect. A past history of mental illness is not necessarily a reliable indicator. Studies have shown that the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and experts say most people who are violent do not suffer from mental illness.

Avoid unsubstantiated statements by witnesses or first responders attributing violence to mental illness. A first responder often is quoted as saying, without direct knowledge, that a crime was committed by a person with a “history of mental illness.” Such comments should always be attributed to someone who has knowledge of the person’s history and can authoritatively speak to its relevance to the incident.

Avoid descriptions that connote pity, such as afflicted with, suffers from or victim of. Rather, he has obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Double-check specific symptoms and diagnoses. Avoid interpreting behavior common to many people as symptoms of mental illness. Sadness, anger, exuberance and the occasional desire to be alone are normal emotions experienced by people who have mental illness as well as those who don’t.

Wherever possible, rely on people with mental illness to talk about their own diagnoses.

Avoid using mental health terms to describe non-health issues. Don’t say that an awards show, for example, was schizophrenic.

Use the term mental or psychiatric hospital, not asylum.

See Asperger’s syndrome; disabled, handicapped; phobia; post-traumatic stress disorder.
About AP
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Santa Cruz FNB Chapter Welcomes Keith McHenry Back This Spring ~~ May All Be Fed!

PRISON INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: A Peek from the Inside by Becky Johnson

Wasting Away in Santa Cruz County Jail
-- or Dying There?

by HUFF's Becky Johnson

Her Speech at Santa Cruz County Jail during Protest of Jail Conditions and Deaths of Four Inmates since Medical Services in Santa Cruz County's Jails were Outsourced to save money by privatizing. 
When President Dwight D. Eisenhower left office in 1961, he warned "Beware the Military-Industrial Complex". Today, it's "Beware the Prison-Industrial Complex."

For prisons today have become big business in a country where manufacturing generally is suffering & unemployment rates are high.
Santa Cruz County is no exception.
For a jail to be profitable, it must be full. Nevermind that it's paid for with taxpayer dollars. Our electeds & appointeds don't care. For them, it is a job security program for police, judges, bailiffs, deputies, file clerks, probation officers and attorneys.
I myself have been fodder for this system with my "criminal" career:
I am a convicted sidewalk hopscotch chalker, criminal songster, & in the case of the Santa Cruz Eleven, (an accused scapegoat and) a suspected sign-holder & blogger.
But what I want to talk about to you today is the criminalization of homelessness.
Currently in liberal, progressive Santa Cruz it is illegal to sit on a sidewalk less than 14 feet from a building. It's illegal to sit on a park bench with your feet up.
The Sleeping Ban, MC 6.36.010 section a, outlaws the act of sleeping anywhere out of doors or in a vehicle between the hours of 11PM & 8:30AM within the City Limits.
A separate provision outlaws the use of a blanket between 11PM - 8:30AM out of doors.
Hacky-sacking, hopscotching, and tossing your car keys to your husband are illegal acts on Pacific Ave., the shopping-Mecca where all the City Councilmembers friends have stores.
Let me tell you about Gary Johnson, a homeless man, and an activist. Gary was 4 times within 3 days for BEING on the County property in front of the Court House after 7PM. He was charged with trespassing.
When he pointed out that he had a sign which said "A legacy of Cruelty MC 6.36.010 a, PC 647 ( e ) "and that the trespassing code has an exception for "traditional public forums," the DA turned
around and charged him with misdemeanor illegal lodging.
He was sentenced to 2 years in jail
for these 4 acts of sleeping. Recently he lost his appeal of the sentence before Judges Symons & Burdick.
What homeless person can pay a fine of $162 for sleeping in a cardboard box? None of them. And the authorities
know this. But, they can bill you and me for the salary of the police officer who cited or arrested them. They bill
for the time the officer spends in court. They bill for any public defender, but with most infraction crimes, the
person charged has no right to one.
This jail is full of homeless people! And many who were marginally housed when they were arrested, will be homeless upon their release.
The Drug War fuels many of these arrests. So do mandatory minimums and the 3-Strikes law.
But we could cut down on a HUGE amount of local incarceration if we repealed a whole-host of laws
which frankly are selectively enforced against the poor and homeless.
When I spent the night here in "G" Dorm in County Jail, I met women there who should NOT have been there. There was one woman, so mentally-challenged that the other inmates had to tell her to put her underwear on. One mother of four with chronic intractable pain from a car accident, was jailed for the crime of supplementing her inadequate pain relief with heroin.
In jail, despite a known diagnosis of chronic intractable pain due to past injury, for which she had been treated with addictive pain medications, she was forced to quit "Cold Turkey". Her only relief were hot showers. One day, in serious pain, she was pulled from an "unauthorized" shower dripping wet & thrown into an icy holding cell. While in there, she watched as deputies watched "prison porn" on their monitors where women prisoners were tormented & sexually abused.
Another woman was serving 3 months of a 6-month sentence for assault when she herself was assaulted by three women in Jade Street Park after hours. The women beat her over the head with a frying pan (she showed me the scar on the top of her head). They stole her laptop computer. As they fled the park, she called 911 on her cellphone. Police and an ambulance arrived while the three women were still in the area. Terry, the only injured person, was sent to the hospital.
She was arrested in the emergency ward. The three women had convinced the police that Terry had attacked THEM!
When by pure chance, her brother's room-mate was able to buy her laptop back (the smoking gun) the DA ignored it.
Since she was still charged with felony assault, Terry was forced to plea "no contest" to a misdemeanor. Judge Ariadne Symons okayed that one.
Another form of abuse is the arbitrary nature of what charges are filed and what the how much bail is set. When Gabriella Ripley-Phipps was arrested in December of 2011 for basically protesting the destruction of the Occupy Santa Cruz encampment, she was charged with "obstructing an officer" and bail was set at $25,000. When shooting suspect, Jeremy Goulet was arrested for breaking into his female co-workers home and sexually assaulting her in her own bed, his bail was set at $250.
In the case of Kenneth Massei, the man who was falsely arrested for stealing flowers from the memorial for the 2 slain police officers, bail was set at $5000. He was forced to spend 18 days in jail here until his attorney showed the receipt for the flowers that he had in his possession when he was first jailed.
Isaac Collins, the only person arrested last year at the UCSC 420 event, was jailed here for 82 grams of chocolate & butterscotch brownies that tested positive for marijuana. Collins is black. The deputy that arrested him said he picked Collins out of the large crowd of pretty much all-day law-breaking because "he was wearing a very colorful shirt."
So in conclusion, we need to End the Drug War! End the war on the poor! End mandatory minimums! End 3-Strikes! Repeal the Sleeping Ban, Blanket Ban, and laws which were written and are enforced specifically to be used against homeless people.
Justice demands that we don't stop until this work is done.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

April 10th: Public Health, Drugs, Needle Exchange ~~ April 24: Homelessness and Home Town ~~ All Welcome

Santa Cruz Forums on
Community Safety and Compassion
This message is from Peter Klotz-Chamberlin
of Resource Center for Nonviolence, Santa Cruz
Please come, and please spread the word…
Drugs, Public Health
and Needle Exchange
Wednesday, April 10 at 7 PM:
*Rev. Deborah L. Johnson, Inner Light Ministries
*Craig Reinarman, UCSC Professor of Sociology
*Giang Nguyen, Director, Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency
*Alex Kral, Director, Urban Health Program, San Francisco
*Personal narratives
at Santa Cruz High School Theater, 415 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz
Homelessness and our Home Town
at Santa Cruz High School Theater, 415 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz
Wednesday, April 24 at 7 PM

All Welcome! Admission free.
Donations welcome for hall rental. FMI: contact  831-423-1626
Cosponsored by:
Resource Center for Nonviolence
Community Action Board
Charter for Compassion
Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center
First Congregational Church of Santa Cruz
Peoples’ Democratic Club
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom

Peter Klotz-Chamberlin

Help Poor Peoples' Attorney Lynn Stewart Gain Compassionate Release from Unjust Prison Sentence, Due to Her Critical Cancer-related Needs



APRIL 4, 2013

I hereby declare on this day commemorating the life and sacrifice of my friend and brother in struggle, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., that in the spirit of his moral legacy, I demand the immediate release from prison of the legendary lawyer Lynne Stewart, who devoted her entire professional life to the poor, the oppressed and those targeted by the police and a vindictive State.

" time to lose," says 60s Icon Dick Gregory

I further declare that from this day forth, I shall refuse all solid food until Lynne Stewart is freed and receives medical treatment in the care of her family and with physicians of her choice without which she will die.
There is no time to lose as cancer, which had been in remission, has metastasized since her imprisonment. It has spread to her lymph nodes, her shoulder and appears in her bones and in her lungs.

A criminal defense attorney in New York for over 30 years, Lynne Stewart’s unwavering dedication as a selfless advocate was acknowledged by the community as well as judges, prosecutors and the entire legal profession. Such has been her reputation as a fearless lawyer, ready to challenge those in power, that judges assigned her routinely to act for defendants whom no attorney was willing to represent.
In 2002, Lynne Stewart was targeted by then-President George Bush and Attorney General John Ashcroft for providing a vigorous defense of her client, the blind Egyptian cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman. She was charged with conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist activity after she exercised both her and her client’s first amendment rights by presenting a press release to a Reuters journalist. She did nothing more than other attorneys, such as her co-counsel former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, have done on behalf of their clients.
The reason for the prosecution and persecution of Lynne Stewart is evident to us all. It was designed to intimidate the entire legal community so that few would dare to defend political clients whom the State demonizes and none would provide a vigorous defense. It also was designed to narrow the meaning of our cherished first amendment right to free speech, which the people of this country struggled to have added to the Constitution as the Bill of Rights.
The prosecution and imprisonment of Lynne Stewart is an ominous threat to the freedom, rights and dignity of each and every American. It is the agenda of a police state.
I ask you to join with me to demand freedom for Lynne Stewart. An international campaign has been launched with a petition that supports her application for compassionate release. Under the 1984 Sentencing Act, the Bureau of Prisons can file a motion with the Court to reduce sentences “for extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Life threatening illness is foremost among these and Lynne Stewart meets every rational and humane criterion for compassionate release.
Join with me, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Pete Seeger and 6,000 other people of conscience throughout the world who have signed this petition to compel the Warden of the Federal Medical Center, Carswell and the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to act. Act now. There is no time to lose.

The petition (below) can be found online at the Justice for Lynne Stewart website:

Contacts: Lil Gregory at 508.746.7427 to schedule interviews with Dick Gregory and Ralph Schoenman at 707.552.9992 for follow up information on Dick Gregory and the Campaign to Save the Life of Lynne Stewart.