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"Crazy In America" Panel Discussion

A panel discussion of Mary Beth Pfeiffer's "Crazy In America" will be held at 7:00 PM on Thursday, February 7 at Decorah Public Library.
When Feb 07, 2008
from 07:00 PM to 09:00 PM
Where in the Mezannine
Contact Name
Contact Phone 563-382-3717
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There will be a panel discussion based on Mary Beth Pfeiffer’s book “Crazy in America: The Hidden Tragedy of Our Criminalized Mentally Ill” Thursday February 7, 7 pm, at Decorah Public Library. The discussion precedes Pfeiffer’s visit to Luther College on Tuesday February 12 (CFL Recital Hall at 7 pm). Copies of the book are available at Decorah Public Library and at local bookstores; both events are open to the public free of charge.


According to publisher Carroll & Graf, “‘Crazy in America’ is an indictment of a society that criminalizes its mentally ill and incarcerates its weakest, most vulnerable citizens- who often emerge sicker and more damaged than before.”


Pfeiffer tells the story of six people with mental illness and their encounters with the criminal justice system. Of the six individuals profiled, only 1 is still living: Shayne Eggen, a 40 year old former Decorah resident who has been hospitalized 25 times and who went to prison in 1997 for stabbing then-Chief of Police Ben Wyatt.  During her stay in prison, Eggen blinded herself while locked in what prison inmates call “the hole.”


Discussion panelists include State Representative Chuck Gipp, former Decorah Chief of Police Ben Wyatt, therapist Carol Hagen, Eggen’s aunt and legal guardian Pat Jewell, and Administrator of the Mental Health and Disabilities Program at Winneshiek County Central Point of Coordination (CPC) Jan Heikes. Panelists will talk about legislative issues, training and experience related to interacting with people with mental illness, how families make decisions about coping with mental illness, and what programs are available to assist those with mental illness. There will be time for a question and answer session following the panel discussion.


Author Mary Beth Pfeiffer is an investigative reporter and 2004 Soros Justice Media Fellow who has written articles on prison conditions and the treatment of mentally ill inmates for numerous publications.


Program partners include the Winneshiek County Central Point of Coordination (CPC) Office, Luther College, and Decorah Public Library. Contact Kristin Torresdal at 382-3717 for more information.