Corrections Final Paper

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Final Paper
Student ID: Maya DeNola
California State University Long Beach
CRJU 303 – Corrections
December 12, 2012
Professor: Ryan Fischer

Table of Content

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………..2 Historical perspective ……………………………………………………………………………..5 Current Policy surrounding mental health treatment in prisons…………………………………..7 Evidence to support the current/historical correctional approaches………………………………9 Evidence to refute the current/historical correctional approaches……………………………….10 Evidence of innovative correctional approaches………………………………………………...11 Suggested approach to address the issue ………………………………………………………..12 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………….13 References………………………………………………………………………………………..14

Severe, persistent and untreated mental illness is running rampant in prison populations in the United States. Mental Health is defined as psychological wellbeing and satisfactory adjustment to society and to the ordinary demands of life” (Dictionary. Com, N.D). In contrast, a “mental illness” is a disorder of psychological well-being which impairs one’s ability to function satisfactorily in society and “often results in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life” (National Alliance on Mental Illness, N.D.). A 2002 study found that severe and persistent mental illness is present in prison populations in the U.S. at a rate twice that of all U.S. mental hospitals combined (Danesh & Fazel, 1989); with antisocial personality disorder at a “ten-fold excess” (Danesh and Fazel, 1989. p.548). If Antisocial Personality disorder is, as Dr. Sherry Whatley a veteran therapist at the Giddings State School, a juvenile corrections institution for capital offenders in central Texas suggests, the hallmark of criminality (Hubner, 2005. p.58), then there is a correlation between the experience of incarceration and the prevalence of mental illness (Danesh & Fazel, 1989; Brandt, 2012. p. 552-553). This implies that it would behoove society to address both the conditions of life within its prisons and the quality of treatment available to those entering the system due to their illness. The issue of the mentally ill in our society is not unique to the correctional system. Corrections facilities, such as jails & prisons, have simply become the de-facto providers of services for the mentally ill (Teplin, 1983. p. 55). This reality has caused a domino effect of crisis throughout our societal institutions. From our schools to our hospitals we have a crisis born out of the policies of “deinstitutionalization and the criminalization of poverty” (Kupers, 1999). As increasing numbers of ill people came into contact with an ill-equipped criminal justice system, the crime rate has climbed (Teplin, 1983) and politicians have reacted by taking a “tough on crime” stance. By the time the Crack epidemic broke in the early 1980’s, America was fully committed to the “war on drugs” (Thompson, 2010. p. 709), sadly, the wide net cast by this political strategy ensnared and disenfranchised a large number of the mentally ill as they decompensated and self-medicated on the streets of our nation. The truth about current correctional approaches to dealing with the health of our communities is that we only have front and back end approaches. We either attempt to divert the chosen few or we attempt to rehabilitate the broken many; we have no approach to dealing with the largest cohort, those in custody. California is in the midst of a six-year long federal receivership of its prison system, due to its failure to provide adequate health care. Although we have a number of nongovernmental agencies tasked with addressing the issues of the mentally ill at large, as a society, we do not acknowledge the underlying mental health issue that in many cases leads to incarceration. A longitudinal study, spanning 5 years, published in July of this year (2012) which looked at the “Trends and...
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