Several studies point to the fact that prisons do not help mentally ill offenders in any way. The studies show further that mentally ill inmates become worse off. This increases recidivism.
Unfair Prison Treatments Disconnects Mentally Ill Inmates
Mentally sane, agile and alert people leave the prison system wholly changed in most cases. This means that mentally stable inmates find prisons very inconvenient and challenging.
Some enter sane, but leave insane. If sane offenders can find prison challenging, what about mentally challenged offenders? Studies have revealed that prisons agitate mentally ill inmates and cause them more mental harm.
Dustin DeMoss of Huffington Post noted that the Departments of Corrections in the US tend to favor incarceration for persons that demonstrate “perceived or misunderstood mental illness.” To this end, Stuart Grassian, a psychiatrist, observed that nearly a third of inmates placed in solitary confinement end up becoming “actively psychotic and/or acutely suicidal.”
Mental Health Courts Should Be the First Step for Mentally Ill Inmates
Solitary confinement in prisons worsens the conditions of persons who are already mentally ill. In order to help out mentally ill offenders, experts suggest mental health courts as the first recourse.
The mental health courts provide mentally ill offenders with treatments that alleviate their mental health conditions; rather than rushing off to unfavorable court procedures.
To buttress the benefits of mental health courts for mentally ill offenders, a study carried out by Urban Institute reveals it reduces recidivism. Criminal court proceedings tend to cause released offenders to return to prison, but not after they have gone through mental health courts.
This is the more reason why US prisons must put rehabilitative practices that would not dehumanize inmates in place. Rather than subject an unstable inmate to inhumane treatments, it is better to rehabilitate them for better health and re-entry.