Artist, writer, and organizer Devyn Springer joins the Beyond Prisons podcast for a special two-part episode.
In part one, Devyn speaks with hosts Kim Wilson and Brian Sonenstein about his work with mental health response networks in Atlanta. Through Rise UP, Black Lives Matter, and other groups, Devyn has worked to confront mental health emergencies through deescalation and by building relationships in the community.
We discuss how the presence of police, and threat of violence that accompanies them, exacerbates manic episodes. We also talk about the dangers of making police the first responders in times of crisis, as well as the defunding and dissolution of mental health services in the community, which have shifted to prisons and jails.
We talk about how these facilities do not and cannot provide an adequate therapeutic environment, and how situating treatment in the justice system has encouraged a defensive posture, in which we are dealing with crises more than providing ongoing support and treatment before they happen. Finally, we examine the recent killing of Scout Schultz, a student at Georgia Tech who had a history of mental illness, as well as the response to Scout’s death by other students.
Devyn Springer is an Atlanta-based artist, writer, organizer, and educator with a background in African & African Diaspora studies and a concentration in Art History. He has worked with various organizing groups in Atlanta such as Rise UP, It’s Bigger Than You, Black Lives Matter, and is a member of Workers World Party. He is the assistant editor of two peer-reviewed academic journals, South and ATL. His first book of poetry & art is titled “Grayish-Black,” and you can follow him on Twitter @HalfAtlanta, and see some of his visual art at Urbansoulatlanta.com
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Music & Production: Jared Ware