Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Tonight (April 28, 2009) PBS will air a new episode of FRONTLINE: "The Released" (60 minutes),which documents what happens when offenders with mental illness leave prison. It is scheduled to air at 9:00 PM EDT; check your local listings.

Here's a message from the Senior Editor:

Five years ago, FRONTLINE filmmakers Karen O'Connor and Miri Navasky went deep inside the Ohio prison system to see how it was caring for thousands of mentally ill inmates - a growing problem for prisons nationwide in the wake of the shutdown of most of the old state psychiatric hospitals.

This Tuesday night, O'Connor and Navasky return to Ohio to pursue the next chapter in this disturbing story: What happens to mentally ill offenders when they've served their time and leave prison? The film is called "The Released," and it just may be the most gripping and profound hour of
television you watch all year.

Meet Lynn Moore, for example. He's a paranoid schizophrenic with a history of drug and alcohol abuse, who's been arrested more than twenty times.

O'Connor and Navasky find him in a homeless shelter after he's finished his fourth prison term. He battles his addictions, struggles to find work, and, ultimately gives in to the voices in his head. "It is not delusions," Moore tries to explain, after attacking a trailer-home where he believed evil figures were gathering one night. "It was the devil, Antichrist, bin Laden, Saddam." It's hard to watch without asking yourself an uncomfortable question: Would Lynn Moore have been better off
in prison, where he was compelled to stay on the medication that had helped him so dramatically?

O'Connor and Navasky also follow a number of other men, including Keith Williams, who's soon to be released from Northcoast, one of Ohio's last remaining state hospitals. "The good news is that Keith is getting better," says one of his nurses at Northcoast, which now provides only short-term crisis care. "The bad news is that because of this, he'll be sent back into the community in Toledo, and he'll be back here within three months - probably very psychotic, and hopefully not having hurt somebody."

Can a patchwork of homeless shelters, group homes, and short-term care facilities really provide for the severely mentally ill after prison? How do we reconcile our desire to release the mentally ill from prison and state hospitals when only the state may be able to provide the care and supervision they need? What does it mean for people trapped in their minds really to be free?

We hope you'll join us for the broadcast this Tuesday night. You can watch two excerpts from the film right now at our web site, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/released/.

Ken Dornstein
Senior Editor

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