MENTAL HEALTH OF PRISONERS IN NORTH AMERICA ESSAY PRINT

Submitted By Megasaurasrex
Words: 2048
Pages: 9

th th Between the 16 and 17 century, prisons were originally used as a place to hold accused

people temporarily until it came time for their punishment. Often these punishments consisted of harsh consequences such as whipping or branding and would lead to death. These actions were th publicly performed in order to put the prisoner to shame. Within the 18 century, people held in

prisons were sent to do hard labor within the imprisoned area to construct large buildings and work with heavy machinery. These working conditions lead to very poor physical conditions and were detrimental to the prisoners’ health. As a result, prisons were to now center their th punishments on simpler tasks such as picking tarred rope and weaving. In the 19 century,

capital punishment was inappropriate and was considered outdated. Hard labor and flogging also th became abolished in the 20 century; this eliminated harsh and cruel punishments towards

prisoners. Although the consequences for the incarcerated have been less of a strain on them physically, they are left to deteriorate mentally over a long period of time without necessary care rather than death being the quick and easy way to end things. It was not until the 1970’s that treatment and rehabilitation were considered for prisoners with mental illnesses and disorders and still, it is ineffective as the rates of prisoners with mental health problems is high. It is generally admitted that prisons exist because we do not know what to do with people who deviate against society; they are therefore put into an environment completely confining them from the outside world leaving them to suffer with longer lasting consequences. In today’s society, prisoners are often depicted as guilty criminals who are up to no good and therefore are deserving of doing ‘hard time’. Many people are quick to judge those individuals and see them as people who have nothing to offer to their community without full knowledge of the background of this person who committed a crime.

Assault, burglary, robbery, and murder are the most common cases as to why people become imprisoned and often the use of drugs and alcohol are involved. It is stated that the occurrence of drugs and alcohol being used is very high. “Alcohol abuse or dependence rates found in eighteen studies ranged from 50% to 66% in one group” 1 Whether or not the uses of these substances were involved, it leads to question what mind state the person was in during the act of the crime. Studies show that people who commit such crimes are dealing with some sort of mental disorder. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “56 percent of state prisoners and 45 percent of federal prisoners have symptoms or a recent history of mental health problems.” 2

These individuals who cannot receive treatment after the crime are thrown into prison therefore escalating the condition of the illness they are already dealing with. These individuals are left to suffer from being confined in a tight area isolating them from the outside world. This brings me to the next point of Supermax prisons and isolation.
Supermax, short for super­maximum security prisons are “designed to house violent prisoners or prisoners who might threaten the security of the guards or other prisoners.” 3 Prisoners who are thrown into these small cells are believed to have modified their behavior when being thrown into these rooms. They are isolated from almost everything in the outside world. They are to stay in the cell…