The reports reveal that many mental patients in South Australia have been shifted to jails. However, the move was not taken because the patients have been found lying about their mental status to escape legal punishments. Instead, the lack of beds pushed the authorities to make such adjustments.
It has been observed that South Australia has a shortage of bedding, which has prompted almost 15 patients to be behind bars. While mental hospitals are suffering from a shortage of beds, jails are being given sufficient bedding facilities for prisoners.
South Australia’s budget 2016 allowed more beds for overcrowded jails. According to the state budget, almost $56.1 million is assigned for increasing the beds for jail by 198.
It is expected that more than 3,000 prisoners would get extra beds by 2019 and will not have to share common congested sleeping areas.
“We’ve got more police on the streets than any other state per capita and that means they catch more criminals and that means we have to house them,” the Australasian Lawyer quoted Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis as saying.
The focus grabbed on the matter when the Opposition brought into limelight the issues of a 35-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with mental sickness, according to Police Minister Peter Malinauskas. However, she has shifted to Women’s Prison because there is no sufficient number of beds available in the hospital.
The Opposition deputy leader, Vickie Chapman, raised the issue in the parliament and also addressed the same to government ministers. He wrote in a letter to the government that there is a continuous lack of beds for offenders suffering from mental illness.
“It is utterly disgraceful that (the woman) has been placed in one of your correctional facilities as the ‘only option’,” Chapman wrote. She called for the woman to be transferred to a facility “where she can access treatment without delay”.
According to The Adelaide Now, there are almost 60 forensic mental health beds for offenders who are mentally challenged. Many ministers have come forward regarding the issue and have put forth their point of views while Mental Health Minister Leesa Vlahos has not commented on the matter yet.
The mental health minister, however, has the power to forward proposals based on the difficulties being faced due to the shortage of beds.