Welcome to post 9/11 crazy thinking. We have a newly organized America. I call it: I'm-scared-shitless-there-are-terrorists-hiding-under-my-bed America. In the new America we criminalize everything. If a child is out of control and clearly needs major help, do we intervene and start the child on a mental health/medical health path? No. We arrest the child. No surprise really. It's what we've done to mentally ill adults for decades now.
We, as a society, decided to shut down the state hospitals and toss those people on the street. In a few places there was a thoughtful increase in community based service for these folks. Much of that did not last. Even more of such services began to lose funding as a result of the recession. Yes, I know the arguments about state hospitals having less than stellar performance and conditions. But, seriously, our response is to throw out the baby with the bathwater? Was there even a serious discussion of cleaning up those abuses and putting systems in place to monitor for problems? Draw your own conclusions.
How could this be in a country like America? A country where the six o'clock news could broadcast a two minute story about a homeless puppy and before the commercial break the station would be flooded with offers to adopt poor Fluffy. Well, as it turns out, our sharing and caring has certain limits when it comes to our fellow citizens.
"No way, man. That's just cynical."
Just follow the money trail and, again, draw your own conclusions. Also, lest we forget, the new system allows for some of our favorite activities. Blame and Judgment. Sure, at some level, we know we 'shouldn't' enjoy those, but they just feel so self-affirming- in that "I'm OK, you're screwed" sort of way. How could we resist?
Of course the problem is we now spend as much or more to clog up our jails, court systems, and eventually prisons with people who don't belong there.
I will leave it to the reader to guess what group of people brought us this lovely scenario. Oh, by the by, if you think it was only those zany right-wingers who changed the game, guess again. Soberingly, goofy liberal thinking played into it as well. I don't feel a need to recount the history as it is readily available to those who wish to inform themselves.