Special Populations in Prisons

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Special populations create a lot of challenges for the prison environment. For example, mental illness. A. Lutz in her article 'Life Is Hard For The 1.3 Million Mental Patients Behind Bars In The US' states "There are 1.25 million mentally ill inmates in the U.S. justice system, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics.' (Lutz, 2012). That's compared to only 40,000 in mental hospitals." Prisons were never designed as facilities for the mentally ill, yet that's one of the roles it plays. Prisoners have rates of mental illness-including such serious disorders as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression-that are two to four times higher than members of the general public. There were designed mental institutions/hospitals for mentally ill people, but due to poor economic conditions, a lot of hospitals were shut down or overcrowded and people who were caught by the police committing crime because of their illness were sent to prisons instead of mental hospitals. And prisons don't have the right resources for treatment of all these diseases. They are designed to rehabilitate and release prisoners back to society. Prisoners are required to follow-up with parole officers and receive other types of non-medical support to rejoin society. However, when a mentally ill patient gets released from prison, they are not provided any support groups or counselors to follow-up on their care. This can cause a relapse of the behavior and ultimately, a return to prison. In conclusion I would say, mentally ill people should be placed in a suitable environment that can address their special needs and prison is not that place...Prisons are negative enough without further negativity being imparted on offenders by housing them in isolation for what really amounts to their mental illness. Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR),

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