We conclude this month's health focus with some startling facts, thought provoking ideas, and serious questions from contributor Brian Dawe about the mentally ill in our prisons. According to the co-founder of the American Correctional Officer Intelligence Network, deinstitutionalization of the 70s and 80s has done little but burden a field not well equipped to handle the mentally ill. In addition it has increased an already swelling prison population and left this group without the proper care they must have. This alone should be reason enough to put the mentally ill in only those facilities designed to address their needs.
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Managing the "other" inmate
By Brian Dawe
What to do with mentally ill offenders
The American Psychiatric Association reports that up to 20 percent of the inmates currently incarcerated in our prisons and jails are seriously mentally ill. That equates to more than 300,000 inmates and represents a rate of mental illness that is four times higher than that of the general population.
Congressman Ted Strictland (D-Ohio), a member of the House Committee on Crime, reports that between 25 and 40 percent of all mentally ill Americans will become involved in the criminal justice system during their lives. A 1999 report by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill found that the number of seriously mentally ill individuals incarcerated was three times higher then those being hospitalized for the same illnesses. Read the full story
Regarding The Way Back Home: The transition factor, 10/15/07
Transitioning - or re-entry into society as an equal to all others - is an admirable concept. However, the stigma of a criminal record, and in particular, incarceration is one that is not easy to leave behind, even for the offender. If society could be so forgiving, the offender may not be for his or her self.
What may be needed to effect the aims of "rebuilding control, understanding and purpose" is to address what causes these to be lost in the first place - i.e., our customary 'solution' of incarceration. Granted, incarceration is needed for certain types of violent offenders. However, there are other ways we can punish certain types of offenders without the need for incarceration - and the seminal loss of control, understanding and purpose - with long days of meaningless time.
Perhaps we can look to constructive deterrents like radical seizure of assets, long-term reparations for damages, or similar ways to ensure that the debt to society and the victim are repaid in tangible ways. This still leaves an aspect of control, understanding of impact, and a sense or redemption (i.e., purpose) with the offender.
For the violent offenders, our approach has to be different. A way to more intelligently segregate the incarcerated populace according to offense and behavior is something that we must explore, I feel. In this way one bad apple won't corrupt the whole bunch as quickly. And as Mr. Harris says, non-traditional programs and resources to effect prisoner re-entry planning need to be more systemic - but take shape the day the prisoner is assigned his cell.
Posted by a reader on the Corrections.com Comment Board
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Upcoming stories on Corrections.com and the Corrections Connection ezine
Focus Issues 2007
CORRECTIONS.COM FEATURE STORIES
Making strides without taking steps
The basketball court in the hot, stuffy gymnasium at Donaldson Correctional in Bessemer, Alabama is probably the last place you’d ever expect to stumble across a monastery. But when the sign outside the gym door says “Meditation in progress,” that’s exactly what you’ll find. More
Assessing the great glass organization
Someone once asked me if the glass is half empty or half full. I replied, “I am not really concerned if the glass if half full or half empty. I tend to check if the glass is clean.” More
A mission of hope
Most women know that once they turn 40 they need to get yearly mammograms, but not many are aware that after age 20 they’re supposed to conduct a breast self-exam every month. If you take a population of incarcerated women, the number who knows this drops dramatically. That’s where Alabama’s Lucille Latham comes in. More
Med101store.com, a leading supplier of disposable medical supplies, sells directly from the warehouse to health care departments and prisons in 48 states. It’s an unprecedented move that promises to impact the way medical supplies are purchased in this country.
“With the Internet, a lot of manufacturers like Dell computers have already successfully eliminated the middle man to save the customer money,” says Joe Giovinco, President of Med 101, “now we are the first to do it for medical supplies.” Learn more.
Allen County Sheriff's Dept. signs 5-year phone contract with PCS
Public Communications Services, Inc. (PCS) a leading provider of inmate communications services to the corrections industry, is pleased to announce that Allen County, Fort Wayne Indiana Sheriff's Department has signed a 5-year contract with PCS for their inmate telephone services. More
Syscon Presents Prison Gangs’ Management Solution To National Major Gangs Task Force
Syscon Justice Systems, the world’s leader in offender management systems, announced today that it will officially launch its new Security Threat Groups (TAG STG) application during a luncheon speech and presentation More
DuPont Personal Protection Introduces Tychem® QC for Corrections
DuPont, the maker of Kevlar® and a leader in protective apparel for nearly 40 years, has introduced a new garment for corrections officers, DuPont™ Tychem® QC for Corrections. More
CDCR graduates largest CO class of 2006
This month, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) graduated its largest CO class of the year at the R.A. McGee Correctional Training Academy. The 408 graduates already have been assigned to adult correctional institutions around the state. Read more
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Collaborating for Community Justice: A Local Public Safety Imperative
Date: 10/28 - 10/31/07
ICCA’s conference in San Diego this year will highlight collaboration among criminal justice stakeholders, feature the latest research from speakers, and offer 26 diverse demonstration workshops of evidence-based best practices at work in community corrections. More
Film: The Dhamma Brothers
New England Film Artists Present The Dhamma Brothers, 6 pm at the Remis Auditorium, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A dramatic tale of human potential and transformation, the film documents the stories of thirty-six Alabama inmates who enter an arduous and intensive course of silent meditation lasting ten days. More
True Lies: Detecting Deception
This course is designed to help you understand the world of deception. We give you insight to uncover truths or lies during your interviews and casual conversations. More
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else."
- James Thurber (1894 - 1961), U.S. author, cartoonist, humorist, & satirist