The Importance of Diagnosing and Treating Inmates With Mental Illness

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In the early and mid 1900’s the U.S went through a period know as deinstitutionalization, where patients in mental facilities were reintroduced into society. This action was sparked by the introduction of antipsychotic drugs and the lack of funding to house and maintain mentally ill patients. This was to help not only the financial restraints of the government but to help each of the patients within the facilities by giving them the ability to live a fulfilling life without confinement. In the last few decades changes in the United States judicial system such as mandatory prison sen¬tences, longer prison terms, and more restrictive release policies have lead to an exponential increase in the number of inmates located within the jails and prisons. Currently, there are more than two million individuals incarcerated in the United States. Psychiatric illnesses within correctional populations are excessively higher compared with the general population. Currently more than half of all in¬mates have a diagnosis of a mental illness. Correctional facilities are legally obligated to diagnosis and treat the medical and mental health needs of the individuals committed to them. As a result, more psychologists and psychiatrists are practicing in jails and prisons. While the act of deinstitutionalization was to help people with mental illness live fulfilling lives it seems to have made a full circle back to institutionalization. This paper will discuss the view points of how the current system is inadequate in all areas and must have a complete overhaul so that mentally ill prisoners are not lost in the system, how the current U.S prison system adequately diagnosis and treats prisoners suffering from mental illness, and how the current system is... ... middle of paper ... ...on is underdeveloped, funding for correctional facilities to house, diagnose, and treat inmates with mental illness is lacking, and finally the ratio of psychologists to inmates is such that there is a definite need for incentives so that psychologists are willing to work in such facilities. Works Cited Burns, K. (2011, February). Psychiatry behind bars: Practicing in jails and prisons. Current Psychiatry, 10(2), 15-20. Retrieved from Lamb, H. R. (2009, January). Reversing criminalization [Editorial]. American Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 8-10. Retrieved from NCCHC (2008, August). Managing mentally ill inmates in prisons. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(8), 913-927 . Retrieved from

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