We’ve all heard the startling statistics regarding incarceration rates, and our burgeoning prison industrial system. What’s less known or acknowledged is the high rate of mental illness among our prison population. Nearly one in five offenders in our correctional system suffer from mental illness, and Lefford Fate believes this is unacceptable. After decades of de-institutionalizing mental health and criminalizing minor drug offenses, jails have become a primary locus for mental illness. Fate offers convincing evidence for why we need to be treating mental illness rather than locking away individuals.
From Command Chief of the nation’s premier F-16 fighter wing to the wings of an overcrowded prison system, this mental health and military professional has some thoughts about how prison can better serve the mentally ill.
Lefford Fate serves as Deputy Director of Health Services for the South Carolina Department of corrections, where he oversees 600 medical professionals serving over 20,000 inmates. Now retired after 31 years in the US Air Force retiree, he brings his experience as a military mental health technician and certified addictions professional to bear in advocating for improved mental health services in our prison system.