Mental health refers to the emotional, social and psychological well-being of a person. Recently, the rise of mental health issues in criminal legal justice is rising as the number of people with cognitive concerns increases than ever before. In the United States, these incidents are on the rise as people the prisons and jails appear to be new asylums in their correction system. A study in 2014 indicated that about 20% of jail inmates and 15% of prisoners in the United States suffered from severe psychiatric illnesses (Vogels et al. Pp. 629). The study also showed that the number of people with mental health conditions in jail and prison was ten times more than in national states hospitals. Hence, the number of people with mental health conditions in prison is an issue that needs concern.
There are several reasons why the number of mentally ill people continue to rise in prisons more than in hospitals. First, the criminal justice system lacks platforms to handle crimes associated with mental health offenders. As a result, the offender who requires psychological care ends up jailed or imprisoned instead of mental care. According to Vogels et al. (Pp. 630), county and states correction systems lacks a mental health system where people leaving jails or prisons lack proper psychiatric aftercare. Secondly, jails and prisons are overcrowded with people torturing others hence increasing mental health issues.
In an instance where the criminalization of mental illness causes the crease in mental health conditions in prisons and jails, urgent intervention is necessary to resolve the problem. In this case, the government should change directives concerning mental health to limit the criminal justice system from violating human rights. According to the World Bank report on Mental Health and Prison, the criminal justice system should develop a policy to protect the human right of every prisoner, especially the mentally ill prisoners. Furthermore, treating the mentally ill prisoners will facilitate the recovery of prisoners hence reducing the numbers significantly.
The prisons’ effectiveness as behaviours correcting way of ill-mannered members of the society and protecting the ethical people has been questioned in the recent past. The motion of prison abolishing has been on the rise as some people claim that there is a better way of handling this issues instead of putting lawbreakers behind bars. In an argument by Angela Davis, she suggested that imprisoned violated human rights due to restriction of movement and expression. Angela also said that jailing and imprisoning was an unreasonable way of ensures safety and order in society. This was because most people who served jail terms returned to the community without any behaviour correction since the criminal justice system did not correct immoral behaviours (Davis, Pp. 69). Therefore, Angela suggested the governments should abolish prisons and instead provide social support facilities that offer interventions for behaviour changes that would be the most effective way of helping lawbreakers.
However, this debate is complex since prisons cannot be termed obsolete; for Angela to claim that prisons are outdated means that prison out of date. However, her argument is biased since she considered that state in the United States where racial discrimination dominated the criminal justice system. In her statement, the prisons are obsolete since they no longer served to collect the behaviours of the American lawbreakers. Instead, she served as punishment bays for African American men who suffered discrimination and unjust rulings that led them to imprisonment(Davis, Pp. 58). Hence, we cannot say that prisons are obsolete since some lawbreakers with malicious behaviours whose freedom in society threaten other people’s lives, and they were better behind bars.
I, therefore, can’t entirely agree with the development of more abolitionists approach or reforms since some people have problematic behaviours that require restriction. Instead of abolishing prisons, more concern is necessary to emphasize should be given to social support systems within prisons where prisoners can correct their behaviours through engagement. Besides, the government should provide mental health facilities in prisons to facilitate the recovery of prisoners with psychological problems hence transforming them into better people when leaving prisons.
Davis, Angela Y. Are prisons obsolete?. Seven Stories Press, 2011.
Vogel, Matt, Katherine D. Stephens, and Darby Siebels. “Mental illness and the criminal justice system.” Sociology Compass 8.6 (2014): 627-638.
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