There is a growing number of prisoners faced with mental illness which is leading to American prisons being turned into new mental asylums. There is a need for intervention but determining an affective method is the real challenge. As shown in the video, there is growing frustration among correction officers leading to what appears to be abuse between the prisoner and the officer. Correction officers are no longer only responsible for the security of the prison and the prisoners but for managing the mental health status of the mentally ill inmates and arranging plans accordingly.
Prisons are currently designed for security and correctional programs not for mental treatment, which is where the problem with prisons turning into asylums begins to arise. Correction officers are trained police officers not doctors, therapists, or mental illness specialists. In order to effectively handle prisoners suffering from mental illness, prisons need to have staff that is specifically trained in mental health. Over the years, mental hospitals have shut down and started to fade out of the health care system leaving individuals suffering from mental diseases with no where to turn for help. The individuals battling mental health issues are expected to seek help from within the community in community based mental health programs. However, adequate funding is not available from the government to support the new transition of community based mental health programs.
Community members are also not committed to helping the individuals suffering from mental illnesses which leads them to commit crimes due to failed methods of intervention. Once in prison, the burden of dealing with the inmates falls on correction officers who do not know adequate ways to deal with their illness, leading to more frustration for the prisoner and their illnesses still not being addressed appropriately. Providing effective psychiatric care in a maximum security prison is extremely difficult for the prison staff within the prison system. As shown in the video, it is also very easy for correction officers to become desensitized to mentally ill prisoners due to the ongoing frustration and the inmates who fake their condition to receive certain treatments. Even though Ohio state prisons are at the forefront of the video for a need of improving conditions for
mentally ill prisoners it is occurring in prisons across the country.
Society needs to be proactive in order to make the community based mental health system successful before the problems escalate into the prison systems. Prisons also need to adjust appropriately to accommodate the increased number of prisoners suffering from mental illness. With the help of society and individuals within the correctional prison system working together I do believe that mentally ill prisoners can get their mind set back on track and become active members of society.