(Some thoughts from two women who have ‘natural life’ without possibility of parole—Ed.)

“I’m a Navy veteran that served in Afghanistan and returned diagnosed with bipolar and PTSD. The VA prescribed prescriptions for my night terrors and I was heavily medicated. To this day I don’t understand why I killed my own son. I still grapple with mental illness here in Perryville, with a half-assed medical system. The medication I take for on night terrors has to be on a rigid schedule, or I get severe muscle cramping. They are never on schedule. Mental health is a joke here. If I complained about suicidal thoughts, they’d wrap me in a turtle suit, and strip me naked, and throw away the key. I have no purpose in living.”

” I am not a veteran like my roommate, but I share her despair. I too have a mental illness. I cut myself. (she shows me her scarred arms). When an inmate asks for counseling, she waits almost a month and then they hand her a coloring book! That is DOC’s idea of mental health help. I don’t look to the future, because I don’t have one…..I just exist day-to-day. A day without self-harm is a good day.”