A brief discussion of the issue, its social / political / economic relevance, and the importance of finding the proper correctional approach to address the issueo


 Your Introduction Section should be approximately 1-2 pages in length and include:o A one or two sentence thesis statement that illustrates the central issue/question you plan to write about and identifies your main point of view. o A brief discussion of the issue, its social / political / economic relevance, and the importance of finding the proper correctional approach to address the issueo A brief introduction of the correctional approaches that are being (or have been) used to address the issue currently and/or historicallyo Your thoughts about the best correctional approaches to address the issue.


Mentally Ill Prisoners Issues and Mistreatment

Society’s fear of law violations and crimes raise concern about the mental and physical health of citizens, particularly in cases where they commit a crime. Moreover, mental illness constitute—in the social imaginary—a reason why severe crimes occur and why mentally ill people are a threat to social welfare and safety. Despite (or perhaps because of) this fear, mentally ill people’s needs are not properly met during sentencing; subsequently, when offenders with mental health disorders are imprisoned and treated, society does not solve the larger problem. These failures continue to contribute to the social insecurity as the mentally ill people suffer during their incarceration, their mental health further declining as they attain a predisposition to recidivism. In order to begin to solve these issues, both changes in enforcement procedures and a revision to the penitentiary service should be made in order to create better conditions for those who require medical assistance and treatment of mental illnesses during imprisonment.

Problem Relevancy

The problems facing mentally ill prisoners is not new for law enforcement bodies and correction facilities and should be a major topic for concern for the entire enforcement and correction system as legal bodies do not offer adequate social programs for mentally ill prisoners. The medical assistance practices within these facilities require in-depth interventions that are not usually possible due to the correctional system’s specific regulations and objectives. As a result, mentally ill prisoners have little access to qualified and efficient care services, leaving their health conditions to deteriorate without proper attention.

This problem affects not only those involved in the corrections system but also society in general. Poorly treated prisoners are inclined to recidivism after the release, becoming more dangerous to themselves and others. Furthermore, the inefficient treatment may force offenders to re-enter treatment and attend specific healthcare facilities to continue their treatment after prison, which prevents them from entering normal life and becoming functioning members of society. Additionally, social biases and stereotypes negatively impact mentally ill prisoners’ mental development, socialization skills, and emotions, isolating them and shaping their behavioral patterns so that they are more unstable, aggressive, and anxious. For these reasons, the problems of mentally ill prisoners become the social concern and danger for the welfare and social stability.


Two factors contribute to the “social issue” of the continual mistreatment of mentally ill offenders that ultimately prevents them from becoming valuable members of society: society’s understanding of the mental illness and post-release treatments and support of prisoners. Firstly, the lack of knowledge and community-based education about mental health disorders leads to faulty accusations, as members of society often misrecognize mentally ill people and report them as criminals to the police. In these situations, people who have minor mental disorders, like depression or psychological trauma, can be sentenced and offered therapies within the correction system (Kim, Becker-Cohen & Serakos, 2015).

The inefficiency of the enforcement bodies to identify mentally ill civilians from offenders who commit crime due to the mental illness indicate that the information flow between social workers, healthcare facilities, and enforcement bodies is weak and poorly organized. As communication is a part of the social system, the cooperation between various systems and bodies should be aligned with social needs and expectations; however, lack of information and cooperation between different institutions disallow to execute enforcement duties properly and effectively, ultimately harming people and threatening their well-being (Wood, Watson & Fulambarker, 2016).

Policies and Regulations

The political issue regarding mentally ill prisoners is based on the human rights and policies regarding the treatment and care services within the correction facilities. WHO reports that each person should have access to the healthcare system, especially mental health treatment, and psychological therapies (“Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation: WHO’s Framework”, 2015). Nonetheless, the efficiency of the political system in the U.S. reveals that more than 45% of prisoners with mental illnesses have no access to proper medications, while more than 60% are misdiagnosed and treated improperly (Kim, Becker-Cohen & Serakos, 2015). Such a significant problem is based on the policies which prevent psychiatrists from conducting extensive tests to identify the mental illness within prisoners and relocate them for the intensive treatment. Current legal regulations indicate that the correction facility may use only one test to diagnose the mental illness.


The economic issue within correction facilities’ ability to maintain the appropriate healthcare services and treatments can be assessed from multiple perspectives. First of all, the correction facilities report that their budgets are 80% satisfied, while the other 20% are met due to the adequate budgeting or cost reduction. The study on approaches to care about mentally ill prisoners, indicate that the prisoners and medical personnel are usually the first operational unit to be left without appropriate funding. Such an issue cause significant harm to the entire system as prisoners not only suffer from illnesses but also require further treatment, which consumes more funds than the initial treatment. In this case, it is evident that the lack of financial support of the correctional facilities creates adverse conditions for the personnel to assist and supervise prisoners.(cite)

Another economic issue is that the public sector and the private sector do not see value in a budget increase for the corrections system. The government adjusts spending to more vital segments, like healthcare and education, while the correction facilities are reviewed as the second segment to invest in. Thus, the economic problem with correction facilities’ financial supply is based on social biases and political concerns. The improvement of the financial security of correctional facilities may therefore help prisoners to acquire adequate treatment; however, the emphasis should be done on the staffing and commodities supply to ensure that mentally ill prisoners are surrounded by appropriate conditions and treated by professionals.

Current Findings and Research

The current research on the issue identifies three major sources of the correctional facilities malfunction toward mentally ill prisoners. The first source of the problem lays hidden in a “gray zone” of the enforcement bodies, which are the first to deal with mentally ill people. Enforcement bodies are afflicted by two issues when handling mentally ill offenders: they have limited resources to identify whether the criminal has mental disorders and are unable to initiate the full-scale diagnosis without a court order (Wood, Watson & Fulambarker, 2016). As a result, people with mental disorders may wait for the treatment and care services for an extended period, making them vulnerable to further medical interventions.

Another source of the problem is that the correctional facilities usually use only one test and method to deal with mental illnesses. This is due to the several factors, such as low financial capabilities and lack of qualified personnel. These economic limitations are compounded by the fact that in facilities that use a one test method, more than 40% are inefficient or improperly implemented (Martin et al., 2013). Such a significant number of misdiagnosed prisoners shows that the correctional facilities fail to deliver proper healthcare conditions within their institutions. Further, the economic constraints on such facilities disallow them to implement innovative techniques and expand their capabilities in addressing the mental disorders among prisoners. Michael S. Martin et al. (2013) believes that the use of multiple tests ensures the quality and accuracy of the diagnosis and further treatment process

Additionally, Jennifer M. Reingle Gonzalez & Nadine M. Connell (2014) indicate that the primary barrier to work with mentally ill prisoners is lack of knowledge and experience with such patients. They suggest that the correctional facilities have low engagement with the other institutions like social workers and clinicians, limiting their personnel’s ability to conduct evidence-based practices and acquire appropriate support from the healthcare industry (Reingle Gonzalez & Connell, 2014). Perhaps most importantly, the lack of cooperation between correctional and healthcare facilities mitigates the opportunity to address mental illnesses with the latest developments and methodologies so that prisoners are usually undertreated or fall out of the correctional facilities’ medical personnel attention.

In this case, the literature review confirms that mentally ill prisoners suffer from correctional facilities’ low engagement and interest, whether that low engagement be for economic constraints or staffing restrictions. As a result, mentally ill prisoners require more in-depth interventions and approach as their conditions depend on the quality and efficiency of the treatment procedures. New initiatives are needed to meet prisoners’ needs and expectations. Such interventions should be based on the healthcare perspective of mental illnesses treatment so that correctional facilities can address the issue with fully equipped personnel and facilities.

Policy Recommendation

The policy recommendation encompasses the change intervention based on three dimensions: after releasing social integration, healthcare conditions improvement, and budgeting system renovation. These dimensions are the driving forces of the mentally ill prisoners’ recovery and socialization after the treatment and sentence. The reviewed literature indicates that the recommendation to policies should be based on the medical perspective. In this case, the problem can be adequately addressed and resolved, introducing preventive and supporting methods for the correctional facilities’ medical personnel.


Empirical evidence from the literature review suggests that changes regarding the community-based assistance and social program development for mentally ill prisoners after release should take place. The recommendation for the policies’ amendment and extension is based on the need to create the appropriate social environment where prisoners may continue their treatment, gain support from the community, and enter the community as valuable members.

Foremost, the emphasis should be placed on the development of community-based recovery centers, where released convicts can schedule frequent checks and meetings with the assigned community nurse or social worker. Such an establishment would assure community and enforcement bodies that the mentally ill prisoner shows positive outcomes after release and encourage a predisposition to the recovery (Kim, Becker-Cohen & Serakos, 2015). Moreover, the prevention of recidivism can be incorporated within such facilities’ responsibilities as the control and check of prisoners require more accurate tools and methods.

Another recommendation is that released convicts be assigned to local employers with appropriate medical support and healthcare policies, aligning people afflicted minor and non-critical illnesses with community and labor force. The opportunity to work and socialize with people will both benefit prisoners and contribute to their recovery and the well-prepared and supplied workplace may change the behavior of the prisoner, making him or her valuable and productive for the community.

Healthcare Interventions

The review of the field evidence indicates that correction facilities rarely use more than two tests and screening methods to identify mental illness within the prisoners. Such a situation require immediate change as people suffers from mistreatment and faulty diagnosis. The selected medical literature shows that the prisoners are screened by various methodologies get better and accurate illness’ history, which supports adequate and proper medication intake and treatment conditions.

In this case, it is recommended that the correction facilities align with the healthcare institutions in a joint venture to screen prisoners. Such cooperation is based on a mutual benefit as correctional facilities acquire high-quality personnel and tools, while the healthcare institutions contribute to the mental illnesses’ prevention and early diagnosis (“Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation: WHO’s Framework”, 2015). Moreover, such collaboration ensures that an inclination to more severe illness does not arise and will omit recidivism or prolonged treatment, which may also harm prisoners’ health (“Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation: WHO’s Framework”, 2015).

Further, the correctional facilities should adopt the multiple tests approach to increase their competencies and expertise in dealing with mentally ill prisoners. The quality and accuracy in diagnosis show a positive impact on the treatment procedures, as more than 20% of mistreatment outcomes are based on faulty diagnosis results. The increase in access to healthcare services should positively affect prisoners’ well-being as they can prevent diseases and illnesses in the early stages, another driving force to reduce the number of mentally ill prisoners. Consequently, the offered proposal may also affect the funding programs used to support and supply medical personnel within the correctional facilities.


The review on the economic aspects of the issue indicates that the correction facilities require a new budgeting process to meet requirements for treating mentally ill prisoners. They identify issues with understaffing, lack of appropriate conditions and facilities, and low supply of medications (an issue based on the ineffective budgeting process) as being non-supportive of correctional facilities’ healthcare needs.

In this instance, it is recommended that the budgeting committees review the supply and support of the correctional facilities from two perspectives: autonomous healthcare institution creation and collaboration with the entire healthcare industry. Both proposals should prioritize the financial needs of the correctional facilities and assist them in meeting the primary expectation of funding treatment and care services for prisoners. Beneficially, the proposed ideas may decrease the financial overwhelm on correctional facilities as they acquire additional support from the healthcare institutions.

Correctional institutions should allocate more funds to hospitals’ and clinics. The efficient and exclusive supply of medication, appliances, and staff will ensure that the correctional facilities are prepared to offer support, care, and conditions for prisoners with health disorders. Because reshaping the budget to cover all aspects is not an affordable solution as it causes more damages than benefits, the authorities should initiate the creation of local independent organizations which can invest funds in correctional facilities medical supply. This system offers adequate funds as needed without the necessity to reshape the budget or ask for extra funding from the state or the federal budget.


The conducted research on the issues faced by the mentally ill prisoners within the correctional facilities reveals that the problem is based on three sources of correctional facilities’ attitude toward such prisoners. The social, economic, and medical perspective on the problem identifies the problems mentally ill prisoners’ healthcare as their needs and requirements are more complicated and sensitive to medical intervention. Besides, the lack of affordable economic planning triggers the issue in medical support and supply of the correctional facilities so that prisoners suffer from the misdiagnosis and faulty treatment. The proposed recommendations review the problem from the healthcare perspective; however, these recommendations can be aligned to the current policies and regulations as the extension of their powers and accuracy.


Kim, K., Becker-Cohen, M., & Serakos, M. (2015). The Processing and Treatment of Mentally Ill Persons in the Criminal Justice System. Retrieved 15 September 2019, from https://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/48981/2000173-The-Processing-and-Treatment-of-Mentally-Ill-Persons-in-the-Criminal-Justice-System.pdf

Martin, M., Colman, I., Simpson, A., & McKenzie, K. (2013). Mental health screening tools in correctional institutions: a systematic review. BMC Psychiatry, 13(1). doi: 10.1186/1471-244x-13-275

Mental Health, Human Rights and Legislation: WHO’s Framework. (2015). Retrieved 15 September 2019, from https://www.who.int/mental_health/policy/fact_sheet_mnh_hr_leg_2105.pdf

Reingle Gonzalez, J., & Connell, N. (2014). Mental Health of Prisoners: Identifying Barriers to Mental Health Treatment and Medication Continuity. American Journal Of Public Health, 104(12), 2328-2333. doi: 10.2105/ajph.2014.302043

Wood, J., Watson, A., & Fulambarker, A. (2016). The “Gray Zone” of Police Work During Mental Health Encounters. Police Quarterly, 20(1), 81-105. doi: 10.1177/1098611116658875


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