Thursday NOV. 3


Restorative Justice & Social Healing: Mentally Ill & the Prison Industrial Complex-Solutions to an Epidemic.


Lois DeMott, Citizens for Prison Reform (Michigan)


Lois DeMott  is the mother of two boys. She worked to provide her children the best life experiences. They had various sporting opportunities, church involvement, and trips throughout the US. Her youngest son, Kevin, had severe mental and emotional disorders, episodes of raging and unpredictable behavior that became more apparent through the years. By the age of 10, Kevin's illness was more pronounced. His diagnoses now are bipolar, intermittent explosive disorder and depression.  Lois and her former husband sought endless professional help throughout this time. The last eight years have been filled with moments of triumph and valleys of great devastation.   Their journey has taken them through Community Mental Health, out-of-state treatment facilities, psychiatric wards, juvenile homes, police departments, court systems, county jails and eventually, when Kevin was 15, to the ADULT prison system in Michigan.Unwilling to give up and allow Kevin to languish in these systems, Lois took on these treatment and correctional systems to eliminate the cracks and holes in their treatment and policies. Lois' insight into the need for change in Michigan's treatment of the mentally ill, particularly juveniles, is exceptional. Kevin has received inadequate mental health care from the beginning of his prison sentence. He has been punished for behavior resulting from his mental illnesses. He has been isolated in a cell 24 hours a day for his "protection" due to his age, and was placed with adult prisoners when a minor child. Demonstrating some of his mother's compassion, Kevin has asked Lois to advocate for other mentally ill and mentally challenged individuals trapped in Michigan's adult prison system.

Lois' work led on behalf of these children was recognized in 2009. She was nominated by the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency for the "National Mother of Distinction Award". Lois was selected to win this award from the National Juvenile Justice Network and Campaign for Youth Justice.

 Lois continues to advocate and educate. She is a source of help, information and inspiration to other parents of incarcerated, mentally ill children and adults. She speaks to community and religious groups. She and her sister attend and testify at Legislative hearings. Lois' continuing advocacy and outreach recently led to the formation of Citizens for Prison Reform. This group, started on Martin Luther King's birthday in 2011, consists of more than 150 prison families and concerned citizens.  Lois says " Hope, faith, courage and love have remained keeping us bonded together, and we forge onward clinging to these along with our support systems." Her motto is, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." --Margaret Mead

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