Ethical Treatment of Prisoners

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  • Topic: Psychiatry, Health care, Mental health
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  • Published : April 23, 2013
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Ethical Treatment of Prisoners
Iris J. O’Halloran
Soc 120 Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility
Brett Cross
April 8, 2013

Today there are millions of people in prison throughout the United States; because of this fact the ethical treatment of prisoners is a topic that has been analyzed by many on a constant basis. Many modifications have been made to help accommodate inmates and try and maintain their human rights. Ethics according to Mosser, K (2010), is the study of moral values of human’s behavior. Ethics are also rules and principles that are meant to control the behavior of humans. According to Mosser K, (2010) there are different theories that philosophers have come up with to explain the meaning of ethics. These theories have different approaches on how to handle the issue of ethical treatment of prisoners. When it comes to the question about the ethical treatment of prisoners, researchers have come up with many answers, but have society done enough regarding the ethical treatment of prisoners or has society made their lives in prison to easy and because of this life in prison is no longer a punishment for inmates?

According to an article which was written in the BJpsych by Dr. Luke, Birmingham prisoners encounter numerous maltreatments while in prison. Dr. Birmingham states that one of the major maltreatments prisoners suffer while in prison is the way their mental illness is dealt with while in prison. Mental disorder is more widely among people in prison that it is in the general population. There are prisoners who require being transfer to psychiatric hospitals for treatment, but these prisoners face long delays. According to Birmingham doctors who work in prisons face ethical and legal dilemmas posed by prisoners with mental illness. Another issue that these inmates encounter while in prison is solitary confinement. According to another article written in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, which was written by Doctor Metzner and Fellner Esq, in recent years officials have turned to solitary confinement as a way to manage very dangerous and hard to handle prisoners. Many of these prisoners who are placed in isolation which can be there for years have severe mental illness. The conditions of solitary confinement can make these prisoners more violent or in some instance provoke recurrence. When prisoners are placed in solitary confinement the rules restrict the nature and how much mental health services they can receive.

According to Metzner and Fellner another issue is the fact that doctors who work in US prisons face very difficult ethical challenges which rice from poor working conditions, loyalties to patience and employers, and the stress between reasonable medical practice and the prison rules and culture. Doctors are confronting a new challenge in recent years, the prolonged solitary confinement of inmates with severe mental illness; this is a corrections practice that has become prevalent even knowing the psychological harm it can cause these inmates. Doctor Metzner and Fellner believe that solitary confinement can be psychological stressor, that in many cases can be a clinically stressor and it can be as harmful as physical torture. United States prison officials have raised solitary confinement to a mean of punishment and to control difficult or dangerous prisoners. Tens of thousands of inmates spend years locked up 23 to 24 hours a day in very small cells that have solid steel doors. These prisoners live with high surveillance and they do not have simple social interactions, they only have three to five hours a week of recreation alone in caged enclosures. These prisoners have little if any at all educational, vocational, or other purposeful activities. The prisoners in solitary confinement are handcuffed and often shackled every time they leave their cells. According to Metzner and Fullner confinement can cause psychological...
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