Mental Illness In Prisons

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A third issue I want to address regarding the current criminal justice system is the treatment of mentally ill individuals in jails and in prisons. Mental illness is widely present among inmates. Nearly 800,000 individuals in prisons, and almost 500,000 individuals in jails suffer from a mental health problem. Yet, we hear and read headlines on a daily basis regarding inexcusable mistreatments and deaths related to mental illness in jails and prisons. The Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 1 in 3 state prisoners, 1 in 4 federal prisoners, and 1 in 6 jail inmates who have a mental health problem have received treatment since their admission. This is not enough. The need for improvement is urgent if we wish to provide even minimally fair treatment to individuals in custody. It is the duty of the state to administer appropriate specialized medical care and support to those it incarcerates. This is a right afforded by both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. Constitution. In addition, mentally ill inmates are more likely than other inmates to be put in solitary confinement as a result of breaking the rules due to their mental illness. Isn’t this making the problem worse? Too often, mentally ill inmates decompensate in solitary. Even for those without a mental illness, solitary confinement is a form of sensory deprivation. Several states have already prohibited solitary for those with serious mental illness. It is time for Maryland to do the same. Prisons and jails should adopt specialized housing and treatment programs for…show more content…
The corrections system must recognize that incarceration is stressful, causes anxiety, and strains inmates’ emotional stability. Jail staff thereby need new training and improved means of communication between individuals in custody and mental health staff; these will help prevent suicides and self-inflicted injuries by the mentally ill in prison and

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