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In the last few decades, there has been a dramatic increase in the prevalence of severe mental illness in the U.S. correctional system, leading many to dub prisons and jails "the new asylums." In reality, more people with mental illness are housed in the Los Angeles County Jail, the Cook County Jail in Chicago, and the Rikers Island Jail in New York City than in any other psychiatric facility in the United States. This blog article will discuss “10 Good And Interesting Facts About Mental Illness And Incarcerated Individuals”.

About 1.3 million mentally ill people are in local, state, and federal prisons. Mental illness is three to four times more prevalent in parole and probation than in the population. According to a 2010 national health and law enforcement study, prisons and jails had approximately ten times as many persons with mental health difficulties as hospitals and the general community. Spending on mentally ill convicts rises with their number.

These interesting facts and others such as some statistics and percentages on mental illness, incarcerated individuals, how the bureau of prisons handles incarcerated people with mental illness, prison housing for mentally ill incarcerated individuals, incarcerated individual rights and mental health care, and more will be discussed in this article. Ready to learn? Let’s get started.

10 Good And Interesting Facts About Mental Illness And Incarcerated Individuals

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1.   More people with significant mental illness are detained than treated at the most prominent remaining state psychiatric hospital in 44 states. The same is true in every county in the United States that has both a county jail and a county psychiatric facility. "There are more than three times more significantly mentally ill patients in jails and prisons than in hospitals," a survey showed in 2004-2005.


2.   In a special report compiled by the Bureau of Statistics, inmates age 24 or younger had the highest rate of mental health problems and those age 55 or older had the lowest rate. Among State prisoners, an estimated 63% of those age 24 or younger had a mental health problem, compared to 40% of those age 55 or older. According to estimates, 70 percent of juvenile detainees in the local jail had a mental health issue, while 52 percent of those 55 and older did. Simply put, a large percentage of incarcerated individuals suffer from mental illness. Knowing this, it is reasonable to inquire about the prison system's treatment of incarcerated individuals with mental illness. Well, you're about to find out.


3.   Incarcerated individuals are housed in federal and state prisons, run by the Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and state corrections departments. This population includes certain incarcerated individuals who, due to severe mental illness, need access to mental health services while behind bars. According to multiple U.S. courts, incarcerated individuals have the right to proper medical and mental health care. Incarcerated individuals who have been arrested for or convicted of federal charges are the responsibility of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), which is mandated by law to provide for their housing, security, care, and sustenance.


4.   The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) provides incarcerated individuals with medical, dental, and mental health services per community norms for a correctional facility. The importance of therapy and meditation is critical because it helps in suicide prevention for incarcerated individuals. As of May 27, 2017, the BOP had incarcerated and been responsible for the health and wellbeing of 187,910 incarcerated individuals; of these, the agency identified 7,831 (4.2 percent) as having a severe mental illness, as stated in the Report to Congressional Committees by the United States Government Accountability Officer.

5.   Clinicians, academics, politicians, and corrections staff worry about the disproportionate number of people with mental illness and substance use problems who end up in American jails and prisons. Incarcerated individuals have three to twelve times the rate of mental problems as the general population. This is the case for various mental health issues, from depression, anxiety, mania, panic attacks, and schizophrenia to anxiety, mood, and impulse control problems.

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6.   Emerging and worsening psychiatric symptoms are highly connected with prison conditions such as overcrowding, a lack of mental health services in jail and prison, a lack of privacy, an increased risk of victimization, and exposure to punitive segregation (including self-harm). The Bureau of Prisons and 18 states either met or surpassed overcrowding criteria in 2015. The Bureau of Prisons and 26 individual states reached or exceeded their bed quotas in 2015. Conditions including severe depression, PTSD, anxiety, and psychosis worsen while incarcerated.


7.   It can be challenging to tell the difference between psychiatric symptoms and aggressive or deviant behavior, which can lead to harsher punishment for the individual in prison and the community at large. The restricted access to care that characterizes correctional facilities exacerbates this tendency. It has been estimated that incarcerated individuals with mental illness are 1.5-5 times more likely to violate prison rules than those without mental disease. Incarcerated individuals with mental health disorders are twice as likely as those without to have been charged with attacking corrections officials or other convicts, according to a national survey. In New York City, 38% of the prison population in 2013 had some sort of mental health disorder, but these incarcerated individuals were responsible for 60% of all "incidents". Acute mental illness accounted for 16% of misbehavior occurrences but just 6% of the inmate population.


8.   Despite judicial rules for access to adequate health care in prisons, the availability and quality of that care may be inadequate or intermittent. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, only 51% of state prisons offered 24-hour mental health care in the year 2000. A survey conducted in 2009 found that incarcerated individuals, even those with long-term health problems, had limited access to medical care while incarcerated.


9.   Inadequate funding and lack of political backing have led to a shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists who are qualified to provide accurate diagnoses of mental health problems. Due to the difficulties of providing additional resources and services, including particular housing and treatment program demands, prison managers are discouraged from evaluating and reporting inmate mental health problems. Due to the high cost of providing medication for incarcerated individuals, many correctional facilities do not provide medication therapy for mental health conditions.

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10.                For the cost of mental health care for incarcerated individuals, the Department of Justice estimates that it costs the American public around $15 million per year to house people with mental illnesses in prisons and jails. This amounts to roughly $50,000 per inmate per year. While there are federal guidelines for mental health care in prisons, the resources available to individual facilities will vary depending on factors such as where they are located, the demographics of the convicts they house, and the number of trained staff members and those who can introduce them. For example, in 2001, psychiatric drugs alone cost the Los Angeles County Jail an estimated $10 million annually. In 2005, $8.3 million annually was spent on the care of 8,371 incarcerated individuals with mental illness in Ohio. Also impacting costs is the popularity of various treatments and medications within a correctional facility. It's worth noting that in 2000, the Cuyahoga County Jail in Ohio spent $175,000 alone on Zyprexa (olanzapine).

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The discussion regarding how to effectively rehabilitate mentally ill incarcerated individuals involves not only how these individuals are treated within correctional facilities but also the question of whether the distribution of resources at the local, state, and federal levels are adequate, appropriate, or in the incorrect place. The above are more interesting or intriguing facts about incarcerated individuals with mental illness.

Read more about mental illness and incarcerated individuals by clicking on the link below: (Disclaimer: Affiliate Advertising. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.)

Mental Illness Among Prisoners: Diagnosis, Prevalence Estimates, And Examination Of Some Correlating Factors Paperback - January 2012 By Natnael Terefe (Author) 


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