Pete Earley to speak at UAS tonight

A prize-winner author – who says his “life was turned upside down” when his son was diagnosed as mentally ill — will speak in Juneau Thursday night at the University of Alaska Southeast.

Pete Earley is the author of Crazy: A Father’s Search through America’s Mental Health Madness.

Earley says he found it very difficult to get his son help after he was diagnosed as schizophrenic. He says he wrote the book to expose how people with mental illness often end up behind bars when what they need is help, not punishment.

Earley says mental illness should be a community concern.

“You can take people who are homeless, walking along your streets, psychotic, who you consider a nuisance and you can help them get their lives back and improve your community,” he says.

Earley has been brought to Juneau by the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and UAS. He says he will talk about his personal story as he tried to help his son, who even had run-ins with police.

“I’ll talk about how we’re now depending on the criminal justice system, the jails, to take care of these people and solve these problems and why it’s wrong. You shouldn’t have to go to jail if you have a mental illness in order to get help,” he says.

Pete Earley will speak at 7 p.m., at the UAS Egan Lecture Hall.

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