Families, Advocates Speak Out Against the Secure Psychiatric Unit at NH Men’s Prison
Written by Nancy West
January 26, 2018
CONCORD — Two mothers told lawmakers their daughters are harassed, humiliated, and sometimes “locked down” at the Secure Psychiatric Unit at the New Hampshire Prison for Men, and a former patient recounted nearly dying as his pleas for emergency medical care were ignored.
The Secure Psychiatric Unit has stirred controversy because mentally ill people are held there if they haven’t committed a crime, but are considered too dangerous to be housed at the New Hampshire Hospital for the mentally ill.
At SPU, civilly committed patients who were found not guilty by reason of insanity and not competent to stand trial are commingled with convicted criminals who are mentally ill in a 60-bed unit on the grounds of the men’s prison. Presently, three women and one person who is transitioning from male to female, are housed in the unit on the prison campus with about 1,400 men.
“My daughter has been in SPU (Secure Psychiatric Unit) for three years,” said Cindy Glazier. “I can visit on weekends. That’s it. It’s a prison setting, not a psychiatric unit. It’s not for patients. She’s treated like a prisoner and it’s not set up as a hospital.
Glazier’s daughter, Patina Welch, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in 2015 to jumping out a second-story window in Lyman holding her 4-month-old boy-girl twins, killing her son and injuring her daughter the summer before. Welch told police she was trying to save them from armed intruders.
The prosecutor at the time said there was clear and convincing evidence that Welch suffered from a mental disease or defect. Welch was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and personality disorder.
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