By Pyerse Dandridge
Author: Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp
It is reported that over half of male inmates have at least one mental disorder. This means that mental health issues are present before incarceration takes place. Without treatment or with inadequate treatment, it is highly likely that men with mental health issues will re-offend and contribute to recidivism rates.
Mental health issues are often the reason inmates initially commit a crime. However, winning a trial with the plea of insanity is difficult to do. Studies show that less than 1% of those who plead insanity are actually acquitted and sentenced to psychiatric care. Of those who receive help, it is reported that over half are less likely to re-offend after their admittance to psychiatric care. However, of those who show signs of mental illness and are sentenced to prison time, their likelihood to recidivate increases exponentially.
Although there are programs to help former inmates, ongoing support after being released from incarceration is expensive. The cost for psychiatric care seemingly is outweighing the cost per inmate in correctional institutions. However, if recidivism is truly a problem the criminal system wishes to avoid, ongoing support and care after release should remain a priority. Institutionalization provides a steady way of life for men inside, however, when they are released, those with mental disorders are re-triggered when their placed back into society. The community expects former inmates to be completely rehabilitated, but in actuality they were always unable to function in a society that has extremely high expectations for them.
it is clear that psychiatric care could provide real hope for those who have very little opportunity to walk a more righteous path post-release. In psychiatric facilities, men are treated as patients, and the medical professionals conduct their care as patients rather than prisoners. Studies have shown that this form of rehabilitation has proven to prevent recidivism and allow proper diagnosis and resolutions, rather than pushing individuals back out into an environment where they have no other options.
Institutionalization provides an ongoing, supportive and stable environment. Though the cost may be financially high, how can it compare to the suffering of the individual and their unfortunate victims? There may be losses in certain areas, but if the criminal justice system would take into consideration the decreased rates in recidivism after receiving ongoing support for mental health disorders, the results would be highly favorable when looking at the bigger picture.