Special Needs Prisoner

Topics: Prison, Criminal justice, Disability Pages: 3 (844 words) Published: March 20, 2013
Special Needs Prisoner
David Thompson
University of Phoenix

Special Needs Prisoner

The American penal system is comprised of every element of society imaginable. There are people from all walks of life being held in one prison or another across our great country for crimes they’ve committed or allegedly committed against mankind. Be it at the state, federal or county level, the U.S. prison system does not discriminate with regards to those who are physically challenged. Be it a prisoner who is mentally challenged or one whom is confined to a wheelchair, if they have committed a crime and are found guilty of such, they will be sentenced to facility that under most circumstances are equipped to handle prisoners with special needs.

Take for example the criminally insane or those suffering with various kinds of mental illness: Round about 1955 the number of mental institution experienced a drawdown of types, in that they were not building any new facilities, despite the fact that approximately forty of the existing one’s had been shut down or were scheduled to be shut down. This change prompted the prison system to take over the role of caring for mentally ill inmates. As more and more prisons grew so did the role of the prison system to care for the influx of the special needs prisoners.

Prisons were able to house and care for some 45,000 prisoners including those who were mentally ill, compared to that of a mental institutions ability to house some 3000 in a mental hospital. Perhaps one of the biggest drawback or downfalls related to this concept is that of the ability to rehabilitate the mentally ill. Because the prison system was/is not geared for actions such as this, many of those who are diagnosed with a mental illness usually find themselves serving their time, only to return to confinement a few years later, due to the prison systems inability to adequately treat and card for their sickness.

But let’s not throw this all on the prison...

References: The Sentencing Project (Washington, DC), (2002), Mentally Ill Offenders in the Criminal Justice System: An Analysis and Prescription, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation http://nicic.gov/Libary/017558
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