Free Essay Sample on Managing Mentally Ill Inmates in Prisons

Published: 2022-09-12
Free Essay Sample on Managing Mentally Ill Inmates in Prisons
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Penal system Mental health
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1517 words
13 min read

Mental ill persons require specialized care. Hence there are institutions that are specifically designed to host them. The transfer of such people from this institutions to a different environment or the community results in difficulty to manage them especially in maintaining order. Deinstitutionalization of mentally ill people involves the replacement of long stay at psychiatric institutions with community-based alternatives which are in a less isolated setup. The transfer of mental illness from the psychiatric institutions calls for the decision on how the group will be handled to enable them to live peacefully in the community. This can be done by providing specialized care to the group. The main idea for the transfer of the mentally ill from the facilities was that the group would receive humane care at the community-based facilities, unlike the isolated psychiatric institutions. The availability of drugs in the community results to worsening of the condition of mentally ill patients. Due to this reasons, there is the need for specialized service and care to the patients.

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Correctional facilities lack adequate and proper health care; this situation is not friendly for the old, physically challenged and mentally ill patients. The need for specialized healthcare by the mentally ill makes the administration and the correctional facilities to come up with alternative ways that will ensure that the health needs of the mentally ill are well met. Other specialized groups like the physically challenged and the old also require special treatment and should have their correctional facilities different from the general correctional facilities. Mentally ill people, when kept in a closed or special institution for them, tend to be passive. They can follow the rules and medication given to them. This strategy is essential when they are taken out of the institution because they will be able to follow the medication and instruction given to them. However there is a problem in patients who have not been institutionalized before, this group of mentally ill persons becomes hard to manage by the nurses when they are diagnosed with medication. Management of their character is also difficult, and they may abuse the drugs which are locally available in the society which may result in lawbreaking.

Due to the uncontrollable nature of mentally ill patients there several services which have been designed in the society to help them in the management of this special group. Some of the initiatives include outreach programs aimed at finding the mentally ill in the society and providing them with the needed care instead of expecting them to be located in a given enclosed area. Homelessness among the mentally ill people is a common thing, the main causes for them to be homeless is because they are unable to pay their rent and deal with tenant-landlord situation leaving them with the only alternative of living in the streets. Mentally ill people also tend to escape from their families and homes because they feel they are too much dependent on others and the strict environment which they are kept at the homes. When they escape the homes, they will be able to access street drugs and use them unlike when under the care of the family members. It is important that the issue of homelessness by the mentally ill people is dealt with to reduce crimes that are associated with such a group of people.

There is a need to keep the mentally ill from being admitted to correctional facilities, and it involves a wide range of strategies. The strategies include; mental health consultation to the police officers when they are on duty, police officers should be formally trained on how to deal with the special group of the mentally ill individuals. There should be screening done at the enrollment of criminals to determine if the detainees are mentally ill or not. Mentally ill individuals should be sent to mental health facilities where they will receive the needed care, unlike jail. To prevent the mentally ill from participating in criminal activities, adequate and appropriate mental health treatment should be offered to the mentally ill individuals.

Screening of inmates during intake enables the federal officers to identify the individuals who are likely to be of harm to other and themselves. Anti-social behavior and psychopathy have the same characteristics; it is, therefore, important that the assessment should be well done during the intake of offenders to enable the officers to distinguish between the two conditions. Screening of inmates also enables the prison officers to identify those individuals who are mentally ill and are under the influence of drug and substance abuse to enable them to know whether the individuals will be sent to mental health centers or the rehabilitation centers for drug management.

Treatment and control of mentally ill inmates encounter challenges in jails; the main challenge is the lack of resources to provide the needed care for the management and care of the mentally ill. Mentally ill inmates serve long-term jail time unlike other inmates, their dilution and mood swings contribute greatly to the regular offenses that such inmates commit. The mental ill inmates are also not given parole like other inmates because of fear of their behavior in the society when released. Lack of resources is the major problem and challenge in the prison management of mentally ill inmates, this group of inmates tends to fail in following rules and guidelines that are set by the jail administration.

There are several risk factors associated with the mentally ill inmates, deterioration of health condition is one of the factors that is encountered by mentally ill inmates. The mentally ill inmates also have the high probability of being physically harmed at the prison. Risk management of mentally ill inmates is of concern if the jail administrators are to manage the mentally ill inmates. The grouping of inmates regarding psychiatric conditions enables the clinicians and the prison managers to administer medication to the selected group to ensure that their health does not deteriorate during their jail time.

Environmental therapy can be used to manage the condition of mentally ill inmates. Friendly environment help in the management and treatment of this group of inmates, there are facilities in the United States which combine the correctional measures with treatment and counseling sessions. The sessions ensure that during their stay at the correctional facilities the health condition of mentally ill inmates is improved to prepare them to survive in the society when their jail time elapses. The main difficulty with the mentally ill inmates is lack of socialization and behavioral concerns with other normal inmates. When exposed to a good environment mentally ill inmates reduce stress and contribute to their quick recovery, unlike other environments which are stressful. Therapeutic care help in guiding the mental ill on how they should adapt with the society and assist in anger management which intern reduces future crimes committed by such group.

Secure housing unit or isolation help in protecting inmates and staff from harmful behaviors including assault and violence. The isolation also helps in protecting the inmates from self-harm and victimization from other inmates. However, the isolation creates room for suicidal actions by the mentally ill inmates. Because of this reason, there have been questions by clinicians and researchers on whether the use of this strategy is good. The strategy has more advantages than disadvantages because the suicidal nature of mentally ill inmates can be given counseling to share their feelings and avoid suicidal nature, but it is difficult to guard all inmates and ensure that the mentally ill are not victimized.

Correctional staff plays a crucial role in the management and care of mentally ill inmates. The staff needs to balance their role as guards and also serve as counselors to the inmates. Staff members in correctional facilities dealing with the mentally ill patients need to be trained on how to deal with the special group of inmates. The skills which the staff should be trained include counseling and psychotherapy which enables them to talk with the inmates and offer them the necessary service. Another skill is consultation, which enables them to talk about inmates to the appropriate bodies such as clinicians about their behavior.

In conclusion, mentally ill inmates are a special group and should be handled with care. There are several strategies which can be used to help boost their conditions both in jail and when released to the society. Special housing is one the strategy, behavioral programs should be aligned to suit their needs. When in jail the mentally ill inmates should be provided with the necessary medication.


Adams, K., & Ferrandino, J. (2008). Managing mentally ill inmates in prisons. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(8), 913-927.

Ashford, J. B., Sales, B. D. E., & Reid, W. H. (2001). Treating adult and juvenile offenders with special needs. American Psychological Association.

Goffman, E. (2017). Asylums: Essays on the social situation of mental patients and other inmates. Routledge.

Markowitz, F. E. (2011). Mental illness, crime, and violence: Risk, context, and social control. Aggression and violent behavior, 16(1), 36-44.

Taxman, F. S. (2008). No illusions: Offender and organizational change in Maryland's proactive community supervision efforts. Criminology & Public Policy, 7(2), 275-302.

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