Mentally Ill in Prison

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Given the number of incarcerated inmates who suffer from some form of mental illness, there are growing concerns and questions in the medical field about treatment of the mentally ill in the prison system. When a person with a mental illness commits a crime or break the law, they are immediately taken to jail or sent off to prison instead of being evaluated and placed in a hospital or other mental health facility. “I have always wondered if the number of mentally ill inmates increased since deinstitutionalization” Since prison main focus is on the crimes inmates are incarcerated; the actual treatment needed for the mentally ill is secondary. Mentally ill prisoners on the surface may appear to be just difficult inmates depending on the degree of outward actions being displayed. For instance, a paranoid inmate may get into a fight simply because he believes he is being followed and/or stalked by other prisoners. It becomes quite clear that the solution for the treatment of the mentally ill is not “Incarceration”.

Community Based Treatment Services
Accessing treatment is quite difficult when there is such a lack of availability of resources in the community. Throughout the United States there is a need for more mental health treatment and additional housing in the communities. Due to state and federal funding and program cuts, there are more closures of facilities. The remaining local facilities are extremely overcrowded which impacts treatment. With the increase number of patients, case management services may not be in a position to provide quality care in a timely manner. People have also become less tolerant of the mentally ill offenders. Many of them believe that these offenders deserve a tough prison sentence and that anything less would be too lenient. However, without the proper treatment in prison, these offenders will be back on the streets among society and potentially worse off from a mental standpoint.

When I first heard...
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