Saturday, December 5, 2009

Prison Punishment And Mental Illness

The number of prisoners who suffer from mental illness is growing dramatically with the increase in prison and jail populations.

According to author, Eve Bender in a November 4th article for Psychiatric News, Prison Punishment Exacerbates Inmates' Psychiatric Illness, the system is creating a more 'severely disturbed' population by failing to provide adequate psychiatric care and punishing inmates with isolation. This practice, which uses segregated housing units (SHU) to separate prisoners from the general population was developed over the past few decades as a way to control prison violence and overcrowding.

Studies indicate individuals who have been segregated have the highest rates of recidivism. Even those inmates with no history of mental illness, suffer from "symptoms of anxiety, confusion, violent outbursts, and even hallucinations" when segregation practices are implemented.

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