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Mentally Ill Criminals Analysis


The shift of all the mentally ill criminals from the infamous institutions which resemble warehouses to prisons can be traced back to the 1950s. This decision was the result of deinstitutionalization in US. This was made in order to close the institutions (warehouses) in which these mentally ill people were kept. The patients lived in awful conditions and were treated brutally. All this extremely affected these people. Eventually because of this fact the most part of the mentally ill inmates where moved to the prisons where they could get proper treatment. The desire to solve this problem and the great concern of the civil rights demanded that these people were provided good medical treatment, because the most part of these institutions were not so much effective in providing adequate treatments to these people. The decision was also to reduce costs which these institutions required and to provide the mentally ill prisoners with new better medications. (Elliot, 2000).

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Mentally ill in prisons

It is argued that today about 283,800 inmates can be identified as having a mental disease. The number of mentally ill inmates constantly grows, and this tendency can be traced in most of the countries today. This fact of increasing number of the mental illnesses in the prisoners is something which has led to a greater concern of governments in most of the countries. America may serve a good example to illustrate this case. According to Harding, about 16% of all the inmates that are kept in the urban and also in the local jails are mentally ill. Harding’s Research also tells us that most of the Americans prisons have become the institutions where mentally ill inmates are treated in the same way as healthy prisoners are.

There are many cases when people having mental diseases are imprisoned. What is more, in most cases the mentally ill prisoners do not receive any special medications at all. In such a way their rights are violated. One of the reasons for it is lack of financing. But at the same time the body of criminal justice is overpopulated. In addition there is constant lack of necessary equipment. For health care services all this complicates treating inmates with the mental and the psychotic disorders. (Harding, 2004).

State prison Federal prison Jail Probation
Mental or emotional condition 10.1% 4.8% 10.5% 13.8%
Overnight stay in a mental hospital 10.7% 4.7% 10.2% 8.2%
Estimated to have a mental illness 16.2% 7.4% 16.3% 16.0%

Source: (Harding, 2004).

The graph above may serve a good example of trying to illustrate the high number of inmates who are mentally ill and then found their homes in prisons. It is in these prisons that they are supposed to get their special medical treatment. In US treatment of these patients still remains a complicated issue.

The number of inmates suffering from mental diseases constantly increases. What is more, prison remain a dangerous place for these people bringing them additional sufferings. In prisons there is a constant lack of qualified stuff, and mentally ill prisoners are always under threat. It is no doubt that mentally ill people should be kept separately and must receive adequate treatment. Mental health is something which is extremely important to every human being. If not treated a mental disease may aggravate. Then the whole body will be affected (Maurice, 1996).

Today, for example in the United States, there are 2 million inmates in prisons plus other 3.6million on parole. These high percentages of inmates who are in these prisons are the result of minor crimes. A good way to solve this problem is wide usage of rehabilitation programs that would prevent inmates of repeated imprisonment. It is a well-known fact that nowadays many young people become addicted to drugs. And this is the answer to the question why there are so many young inmates in our prisons. A good preventive action is special program for youth. Young people should learn more about the possible results of taking drugs.

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Many of present prisoners are people who periodically took drugs. This leads to mental health problems which later results in the augmentation of number of criminal cases in our country. The major problem leading to this is lack of people who could try and talk to the young people in our societies about the effects of using such drugs. So I tend to think that if drug rehabilitation programs are established in our prisons, then our inmates will be able to see the benefits of not taking such drugs. Some of the drugs which are widely spread today and are taken by our young people include harmful drugs like marijuana, cannabis sativa, bhang among other well known drugs. These drugs are extremely dangerous for young people’s health and very often drug users become addicted to them (Alemango, 2004).

Factors leading to increasing the number of mentally ill prisoners

There are many factors which lead to so many mentally ill criminals to be put in these prisons. This is because most of these mentally ill criminals commit the majority of the international crimes out of the many substances which they take. We all know that the use of drugs is a major cause of the brain damage. This is because if the drug users continue using these drugs, you will find that their brain will be affected. This leads to many crimes which may involve sexual abuse or even the armed robbery. Usually such criminals cannot control themselves, that makes their crimes even more dangerous. It is Now the mentally ill criminals are put to prisons where serve their prison term at the same time getting the necessary medical treatment.

These actions are suppused to help these people in trying to rehabilitate when back in their societies. This dates back to the 1950 when the Us government decided that all the prisoners no matter whether they are mentally ill or not should be imprisoned and it is in these prisons that they will be in a position to get the medical treatment for their mental problems. Since then, most of these services have not been quite effective. What is more you will find that there is a high percentage of the mentally ill been imprisoned, yet there are no qualified staffs or even the facilities to help the mentally ill in the hospital. As a result of the increasing rate of the mentally ill in the prisons, there is a growing concern of trying to look for means to try and rehabilitate these people. When the rights of such prisoners are violated and they have to leave prisons without having had the proper treatment, this may lead to their repeated crimes. In such a way they may become involved in criminal actions increasing the criminal rate in the country. (Alemango, 2004).

Problems associated with the mentally ill prisoners

It is obvious that most of the prisons and jails are not the suited for such prisoners. This is because you will find that if the mentally ill prisoner has been put in these jails, it is difficult for such a person to follow the prison rules which have been given by the authority. This is because this prisoner is out of his senses. That is why it becomes difficult to control this person. Different researches tell us that 24% of the mentally ill prisoners have been charged with physical and also verbal assault and there is no way you can control this particular person. You also find that most of the prisons staff usually punish the mentally ill prisoners for the strange behaviour which is a result of their illness. For example such prisoners may be noisy and may disobey orders.

This means that most of the mentally ill prisoners will end up facing tough conditions which many include being taken to a separate room where they can be physically punished when they do not obey the orders. Most of the people who suffer from mental illness require medical treatment but not being locked up in prisons where they experience hard life with no proper treatment which is necessary for these people. For example we may see that most of the substance users are good example of mentally ill criminals who are involved in crimes because of their addiction. This is because most of these drugs are so much harmful when taken and may lead in to awful crimes. It is due to this particular crime that these people are convicted and locked up in jails. It is in these jails that they don’t get any medical assistance and this is not a solution to this particular problem. The solution can be reached through medical interventions whereby these people can get medical treatment from qualified staff. This may also include volunteers among other people to help in administering treatment to them. (Maurice, 1996).

We can also see that in most of these prisons, the prisoners are usually warehoused hence meaning that it will be hard to try and communicate with these people. (Haig, 2001).


Mental illnesses in most cases require complicated treatment. When they are not treated properly, it may lead even to death of a person. So it is obvious that prisons are not suitable for such people. So you will find that due to lack of proper mental health care might lead to even the death of this person. Some rehabilitation institutions and programs should be invented in order to help these people. I think that these inmates must be imprisoned separately so they wouldn’t become victims of cruel treatment of other prisoners that are mentally healthy. Unfortunately now this problem stays extremely topical, because there is no special stuff in prisons and our country still cannot help prisoners with mental disorders. I think our government must try to inform our youth of dangers of taking drugs which may result in mental disease and these young people’s involvement in crimes.

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Elliot, D. (2000): Rehabilitation programs. Australian Journal of Rural Health.

Harding, T. (2004): “Do prisons need special medical programs?” Bern. Peter Lang.

Alemango, S. (2004): Medical services goes to prison. New York. Free Press.

Maurice, V. (1996): Mentally ill in prisons. Aboriginal and Islander Health Worker Journal. Vol. 15(3).

Haig, N. (2001): Preliminary guidelines for the implementation of community based Rehabilitation programs. New York. Free Press.

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