We just received this info about an interesting author reading in Sandpoint on Thursday:

In preparation for Pete Earley’s October 30th lecture, reading, and book signing at the Panida Theater on behalf of his book, CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness, the Sandpoint Library—in conjunction with NAMI Far North and the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force—is organizing a community reading of his book. CRAZY relates Earley’s experiences with his son’s manic episode and documents what happens when people with mental illness interact with the mental health and the criminal justice systems.

The Sandpoint Community Read will be launched in the Rude Girls Room of the Sandpoint Library on 9 October at 5:30 pm with a panel discussion and introduction to the book. This will coincide with Mental Illness Awareness Week, 5 through 11 October, and will be led by a panel including Dr. Ann Wimberley, President of NAMI Far North (local affiliate of National Alliance on Mental Illness); Brenda Hammond, LMSW, therapist with A New Hope Social Services; and Izzy Robertson, Chief Public Defender for Bonner County. A second meeting will be held on 22 October at 5:30 pm, also at the library, where the panel will facilitate further discussion of the book. This will precede Pete Earley’s appearance at the Panida the following week on 30 0ctober.

NAMI Far North—with the help of the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force and in partnership with law enforcement, mental health providers and Bonner General Hospital—is working to implement Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law enforcement in the five northern counties of Idaho using the nationally recognized Memphis, Tennessee model. This program has been shown to reduce the arrest rates of people with mental illness, reduce the injury rates to officers responding to “mental disturbance” calls, decrease the amount of time officers spend on these call, and increase officer satisfaction concerning the disposition of cases involving people with mental illness who are in crisis.

Nominated for the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, former Washington Post journalist, author, and CIT advocate, Pete Earley—during his talk and reading at the Panida Theater on 30 October—will address the plight of the mentally ill, particularly as it affects Bonner and Boundary counties. Since the publication of CRAZY, Pete Earley has traveled the US speaking about the need for mental health system reform and decriminalization of mental illness, as well as testifying before a US House subcommittee to promote Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law enforcement.

“I had no idea. I’d been a journalist for thirty years and written extensively about crime and punishment and society. But I’d always been on the outside looking in. I had no idea what it was like to be on the inside looking out—until my son, Mike, was declared mentally ill. Suddenly the two of us were thrown headlong into the maze of contradictions, disparities, and Catch-22s that make up America’s mental health system. Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness is a nonfiction book that tells two stories. The first is my son’s. The second describes what I observed during a year-long investigation inside the Miami-Dade County jail, where I was given unrestricted access. I feel more passionately about this book than any I have ever written. Our nation’s jails and prisons have become our new mental asylums. I wrote this book as a wake-up call to expose how persons with mental illness are ending up behind bars when what they need is help, not punishment.“

• Important note: The word CRAZY in the book title refers to the mental health care system.”
—Pete Earley

Please join the Sandpoint Library, along with NAMI Far North and the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force, in reading and discussing Pete Earley’s poignant experiences related in CRAZY: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness in preparation for his presentation at the Panida Theater on 30 October 2008. For additional information, please contact Dr. Ann Wimberley at 208.597.2047.