Mental Health in the Prison System


“With the reduction of psychiatric beds in past years, there is only one place that can’t say `no’ when you need someone kept away from society: the criminal justice system,” (Daly, 2006).

Due, in part, to changes in the economy, the number of mental health services available for prisoners have been reduced, while the number of people being incarcerated has increased. The administrators involved are looking to reduce costs, but unfortunately they are taking away much needed opportunities for these prisoners.

Many prisoners are sent to jail, but what the prison system has been failing to acknowledge is that many of these people have mental health issues and/or substance abuse issues. What this means is that prison is not always the most suitable place for these people: in many instances, the person would be better helped at a different facility. However, when a person commits a serious crime they are generally sent to prison, with good reason, but without any opportunities to recover when they are in jail, the prisoners are more likely to commit additional crimes, violate parole, and/or return to prison at a later date.

It is important to recognize that prisoners are not always “bad” people; many of them have disorders or other underlying issues. If there is hope for prisoners to ever really change, their real condition should be examined and their opportunities for success should not be limited.

Daly, R. “Prison Mental Health Crisis Continues to Grow”
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