Mental Illness and Isolation in Maximum Security Facilities

1899 Words8 Pages
Nicholas M. Tzakis Mental Illness and Maximum Security Isolation Introduction: In recent years, the use of the “supermax style” prison has become increasingly popular. These Units are essentially “Prisons within prisons” that are designed to house the most problematic inmates (Rolling, 2005). Many state and federal prisons employ Maximum Security Isolation Units to deal with problematic inmates. Accompanying that popularity is a growing criticism from prison activists and psychologists regarding the treatment of prisoners. Many mental health professionals claim that inmates that are assigned to such Isolation Units for extended periods of time are developing mental disorders. Psychiatric professionals claim that long-term isolation is inherently damaging to the psychological well-being of any person. Sensory Deprivation experiments provide a situation that is analogous in at least some aspects (Coid, 1998) Prisoners held in solitary confinement report symptoms of memory loss, impaired concentration, suicidal, and depression (A.C.L.U., 2005). On the other hand, proponents of “supermax style” prisons claim that each inmate assigned to an Isolation Unit has sufficient access to psychiatric counseling and treatment. There is little direct evidence for the precise psychological mechanisms operating in detention in isolated conditions (Brownfield, 1965). Some proponents of Security Isolation point to the fact that some prisoners are more likely to spend extended periods of time in isolation or segregation due to previously acquired mental disorders prior to their entry in to isolation (Crassian, & Friedman, 1986). Furthermore, many proponents may concede that extended isolation may cause limited amounts of mental disorders but point to the fact that there is no viable alternative to house such problematic inmates.

More about Mental Illness and Isolation in Maximum Security Facilities

Open Document