Mentally ill in prison: Talk by Lois DeMott
January 31, 2013
Time: 11:20 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.
Location: Ford Life Sciences Building, Room 113
Lois DeMott, mother of a bipolar son, shares her insights into the need for change in Michigan's treatment of the mentally ill, particularly juveniles, in Michigan prisons. The talk is scheduled from 11:20 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. in the Ford Life Sciences Building, Room 113.
DeMott's son had severe mental and emotional disorders, episodes of raging and unpredictable behavior. His predominant diagnoses today are bipolar, depression and anxiety disorder. The last eight years has taken them through Community Mental Health, out-of-state treatment facilities, psychiatric wards, juvenile homes, police departments, court systems, county jails and finally, when Kevin was 15, to the adult prison system in Michigan.
Unwilling to give up and allow her son to languish in these systems, DeMott took on these treatment and correctional systems to eliminate the cracks and holes in their treatment and policies. Her son, Kevin, has been isolated in a cell 24 hours a day for his “protection,” yet he was still placed with adult prisoners as a minor child. Kevin has asked Lois to advocate for other mentally ill and mentally challenged individuals trapped in Michigan’s adult prison system. Her work on behalf of these children was recognized in 2009, when she was nominated for the "National Mother of Distinction Award" by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency. She was awarded this honor by the National Juvenile Justice Network and Campaign for Youth Justice.
DeMott is a source of help, information and inspiration to other parents of incarcerated, mentally ill children and adults. She and her sister attend and testify at legislative hearings, and her continuing advocacy and outreach led to the formation of Citizens for Prison Reform (CPR). For more information, see the CPR blog. DeMott and her son Kevin are also featured in a February 2012 column by Jeff Gerritt in the Detroit Free Press, "Mentally ill get punishment instead of treatment."