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Drones and jails as mental hospitals

My brain is having trouble reconciling two news stories — The military use of Drones to kill people and The use of jails as mental hospitals.

The first headline is the launch of a new news outlet or First look/The Intercept and the lead story about the NSA not so secret role in using cell phones as bulls eye targets for Drones. Anyone who is paying attention knows that the various US spy/military/political whatever — have been using Drones to kill targets (people) in other countries. Are we at war with all of the countries where the Drone kills take place? Good question — does an attack on a target mean that the US is at war with a list of bad guys? What we also know is that a whole lot of non targets get killed along with the targets. SIM cards are tiny pieces of electronics which are placed in phones — all cell phones have SIM cards. It is assumed by the NSA and the folks who decide which bad guys are placed on target lists — that the phone is on the person. So what’s happening is that the phone is really the target. The US is spending billions to blow up phones which they are gambling on to be in the physical possession of someone who is considered an enemy. So warfare has now slipped from the Nation to Nation — to a terrorist organization to a list of individuals who are now the enemy of the US and then the cell phone. Are we to assume that this is the new direction of warfare. There is a SciFi plot — the bullet which is somehow constructed to go after a specific target. The target’s DNA code is how the bullet like drone relentlessly follows the targets — Special Effect were used to make the bullet/drone make sharp corners down a hall way. Using a cell phone associated with the bad guy as the target seems to have taken the place of the bad guy’s DNA.

This sort of SciFi targeted killing seems so Futuristic and clinical — and if most people don’t want to be bothered to know what their government is now doing in their names — well just concentrate on the newest Celebrity brat and gossip of the rich and famous.

The other story is really a very old story about how the US has gone back in time to the 1800s in how mental illness has become criminalized. Crazy people end up in jails and jails have more crazy people than the just plain vanilla non mentally ill criminals.

As Sheriff Dart puts it: “We’ve systematically shut down all the mental health facilities, so the mentally ill have nowhere else to go. We’ve become the de facto mental health hospital.”

Do we really want to go back two centuries? Doesn’t that seem not only inhumane but also deluded — on our part?

Most Americans are uninformed and uneducated about mental illness.

In 1955, there was one bed in a psychiatric ward for every 300 Americans; now there is one for every 3,000 Americans, the 2010 study said. So while more effective pharmacological treatments are theoretically available, they are often very difficult to access for people who are only borderline functional.

“Some people come here to get medication,” says Ardell Hall, a superintendent of a women’s unit at the jail. “They commit a crime to get in.”

So we are at a place where billions of dollars are being spent by the USG to target individuals in foreign countries for execution. These executions are not surgical because many of the people killed along with the target are innocent.

But people with mental illnesses only option for “treatment” is to get arrested because being mentally ill is considered a crime in the USA in the 21st century? Is it cheaper to put people in jail than to find a humane and modern way to care for and treat mentally ill human beings?

Both of these news stories can be called — Out of sight and out of mind — the use of Drones to kill others someplace else — and the use of jails to hide away the mentally ill.

America is a batshit crazy country — this is how the USA will be judged by future generation.

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