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Family Hopes to Raise Mental Health Awareness

Kara Onorato, Erie, tells the story of a family member suffering from schizophrenia, who is incarcerated for committing a crime she says he does not remember.
November 7, 2013 - The recent Mercyhurst University study of the Erie County Prison showed that more prisoners are being diagnosed with mental illness, and while hiring more staff members is an idea to help keep the prisons safe, Kara Onorato believes more needs to be done to help these people before they are behind bars.

Onorato’s brother, Marcus, was diagnosed with schizophrenia just over a decade ago after she forced him to go to the emergency room after he confessed to her he was seeing demons chasing after him everywhere he went.

Over the years, his medicine worked for some time, but she says about a year ago he started developing an alcohol habit, began to pull away from his family, and his condition worsened.

In August, he was arrested for breaking into a house, and has been in the Erie County Prison since, for a crime her brother doesn't even remember committing.

He's been under the care of nurses and therapists, but she believes jail is not the place for the mentally ill.


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