Mental Health Care’s Connection with the World’s Largest Inmate Population Visitor Information & Inmate Locator- Prison Inmate Search

Mental Health Care's Connection with the World's Largest Inmate Population - Prison Inmate Search

36 Responses to Mental Health Care’s Connection with the World’s Largest Inmate Population

  1. Anne Pratt, Ph.D. May 5, 2014 at 8:35 pm #

    This message is very important and thanks for publicizing it! The growing numbers of mentally ill in jails and prisons, where it is very difficult to treat them, is a travesty.

    The state hospitals were downsized or closed as a result of terrible conditions, and a movement to increase community-based treatment instead of warehousing the mentally ill. Unfortunately, once the hospital beds were reduced, funding for the community programs was cut (and cut, and cut). The results are visible on our streets and in our jails.

    Increasing inpatient beds is part of the answer. Increasing funding for innovative and effective community treatment is essential. Institutions aren’t the best place for anyone to live, including the mentally ill. Inpatient treatment should be reserved for those who cannot manage with support and care in the community.

    Thanks for the soapbox . . .

  2. PrisonPath May 7, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

    Why should people find this so startling?
    By M. Kathy

  3. PrisonPath May 7, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    I agree, it should not be surprising, but the vast majority of Americans are unaware of this connection. Many Americans are unaware of the closing of the state hospitals led to a major increase in the homeless and eventually an increase in the number of inmates.
    Bradley Schwartz
    Prison Path Founder

  4. PrisonPath May 12, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    I totally agree Kathryn. We treat people with mental illness as scary but most are needing community services in order to live productively without the need to be locked up.
    By Jean

  5. PrisonPath May 14, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    When it comes to offenses, so many are non-violent offenses. In my mind, they do not deserve to be in jail, or even under a court order for supervision with their medication. To me, this is what I call criminalizing poverty; please, not in my neighborhood. Drug cases, among others, more often than not, fill our jails, anywhere in the world, when their primary need is health care, or social services support. I do understand where Katryn comes from, and it is definitely a better option than being in jail, but cohercision is what they do know so well, and, in my humble opinion, and act that has a society, we need to move away from, to reestablish some foundation, built on trust, not on the power we put in the hands of those policing our streets.
    By Eric

  6. PrisonPath May 14, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    Eric, I appreciate that angle — about coercion — and so when I think of a community monitoring presence, I too think more of a truly qualified mentor who will establish trust and relationship vs. policing….right now it seems that even the agencies that want to provide an alternative to prison are so beleaguered by federal requirements for funding that they can’t do what they would really like to in that regard. Just finding the right mentors who would act in a spirit different to what is currently out there would be monumental. I don’t mean to catastrophize, but I’ve looked at this with people much more qualified than I, and it always comes back to federal tethers…..How not to rely on federal dollars is the impossible dream.
    By Kathryn

  7. PrisonPath May 14, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

    I agree Katheryn that services are stymied by the need for government funding – federal and state dollars. In PA, we shut down mental health hospitals with the goal of not admitting so many people with mental illness and helping them with resources and support to stay in their communities. Unfortunately, as with many social services, the corresponding dollars have not followed into the services so that people can live productively and many end up in prison.

    We do have consumer support systems but dollars are very limited. Although we say we can’t depend on government assistance and I totally agree that they have barriers that make it difficult to do their job, how do services get the money they need to operate? Consumers of the services can’t afford to pay generally speaking.
    By Jean

  8. PrisonPath May 15, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

    I’m sure I’m trying to reinvent the wheel here, so my apologies, but it seems as though we can identify most or all of the barriers to improving prison for inmates on the inside and those transitioning to the community, but still there’s a sense of powerlessness about how to address these barriers (at least, I feel powerless about it, but then that’s how the system is designed, to instill learned helplessness). If I could just get my mind and hands around one thing that had some possibility of hope to it. I just had a job offer to work at the local women’s prison, and my heart is there, but the rest of me just shudders. I guess it’s a matter of picking one thing you can do as an individual to improve anything for inmates, even if it’s just being there as a kind, understanding face. Am I too hopeless about this? I mean, where’s the opening to the possibility of effecting real change? Sigh.
    By Kathryn

  9. PrisonPath May 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Katherine, you can make a difference to some of the women inmates. I say some, because not everyone wants to be helped. For the inmates that you do reach, you can be the beacon to the outside world. You can explain that life back out will not be easy, but it can be navigated. Inmates always need help about finding a job, interviewing in light of their record.

  10. PrisonPath May 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    agree Brad. But I also see if Kathryn is saying that she feels powerless, think about how the people coming out of prison and trying to make a go of it feel. It’s very overwhelming for all of us. We can try to make an impact on each person Kathryn as you stated and just do the best we can. I try to help and educate others about the high percentage of people in prison who do have a mental illness. By working together at our gifts we can help even if it doesn’t seem so. Thank you all for what you do! I’m sure it has touched many lives for the better.
    by Jean.

  11. PrisonPath May 15, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    I agree that the use of the word, “overwhelming” is absolutely correct. As a former lawyer and former inmate, I could see firsthand the helplessness that inmates felt about their chances in the outside world. Whatever help that all of you provide will make a difference to a substantial
    number on returning citizens.
    By Brad

  12. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    Cup half full vs. empty, thank you Jean and Brad! It’s never the inmates that stress me out or trigger that awful sense of helplessness and victimization; it’s the environment, the officers, the way they treat the inmates. The administration treats staff just like they treat the inmates, like criminals. There’s an air of hostile suspicion every time you turn around, as if being kind to an inmate is the worst violation possible. It’s just hard to maintain your sense of being a spiritual warrior in there! I’m sure you all know what I mean. Thanks for bringing back a sense of optimism!
    By Kathryn

  13. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    I understand what you mean Kathryn. It can get pretty depressing at times. The prison staff too aren’t sure what balance to have sometimes and they may come across as severe when many times they are trying to be impartial and do their jobs. After a while in that environment, they also likely feel the stress and become anxious. We try to think of everyone in the justice system and how we can improve outcomes for all. Thank you for not giving up!
    By Jean

  14. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    I agree with you Kathryn. I remember a man that was put into jail in Canada, just before Christmas. He has been charged, by the police, with possessing drugs, with the intent to resale. The case hasn’t been sentenced yet, but for when Nixon declared the war on drugs and on cancer, I didn’t search but I assume pharmaceutical co. was where his money was invested. But this guy, got really intimidated while in jail, as he was sharing the cell of a serial killer, that was just arrested at the same time, and when released after Xmas, started to have suicidal ideation. He is now safe from harming himself. The abuse of power over someone that hasn’t been sentenced yet, those who are there to serve and protect do need to be educated about drugs. I have been trying to have LEAP Canada, to give the Toronto Police Department a training about why they believe that these people do not belong to jail. The discussion is now avoided. But mental abuse is not an answer to solve the expensive puzzle.
    By Eric

  15. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:12 pm #

    Congrats Eric on working to try to start a discussion with law enforcement and corrections. That poor man with drug possession should not in any way be near a serial killer as you know. I’m orginally from Canada and I find this kind of incarceration appalling. We are to have classification based on the level of crime and risk. They would prime for a lawsuit if anything were to happen to this man. I hope that he is doing better as what a traumatic event.
    By Jean

  16. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Thanks Jean, You totally captured all I didn’t say. It feels good to have this sound echoing back to me from you. I feel, that so many families are destroyed in the name of justice, manipulated by what has become politically correct but afflicts those with less power. He is not in jail, and I am not even sure that this was all done properly, The risk as you call it, may not have physically hurt him, but I know in his mind, the risk created a level of anxiety in him. Thanks for reminding me, about the regulations surrounding incarceration.
    By Eric

  17. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:13 pm #

    Thank you Eric for your kind comments. Jail is a horrendous process. At the local jail in Lancaster, we just had a suicide last month. The man was only in his 20s and on a loitering/retail theft charge. The bail was $50,000! I don’t understand it. Now his family is devastated and for what?
    By Jean

  18. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    For no good reason. George Orwell was making this observation, “some people are more equal than others” Your story is so sad. I have this theory, that people, that are not confronted directly with this INDUSTRY, don’t realize how dependent and addicted they are to law enforcement, and criminal justice. And the comfort they allow themselves to stray towards, by ignoring what they unknowingly impose on people and family, that needed some care, support and some “love”. One day, I hope people will understand that they contributed to this sad event. And because we do things, refusing to think about our impact on others, it doesn’t absolve us. Our social silence = the death of so many.
    By Eric

  19. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:15 pm #

    Yes, I agree Eric. Many of those in the field do choose to not face the devastation of many lives who could be better served in other alternatives or given proper care before becoming involved in the justice system. People like to believe that people choose to commit crimes and, thus, they absolve themselves of any interaction. Some people do choose crimes, some are innocent who go to jail and some end up because there is no other viable path that they have seen and they lose hope. We are so busy running around that we fail to see the people in need around us. I’m guilty too. We all need to show that we care and will support each other. Thank you for your compassion. You are a light to our world.
    By Jean

  20. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    That’s heartbreaking about the young man who suicided. And so typical: young, first time in jail, usually, minor charges…It’s hard for them to see past the present and to feel like they can get through it. That’s why good people have to be here. Why wasn’t mental health alerted to this guy? Don’t they ask all inmates if they’re having suicidal thoughts? We have to be there to suss that out and then support them through the crisis…
    By Kathryn

  21. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    ntake apparently didn’t flag this man as suicidal. I asked the same questions. We need to do a better job at intake including checking with doctors (HIPPHA a potential challenge) and family members and seeing the people’s thought processes. It was two days after he was admitted. He was with two other cellies but they didn’t think he would do it. So this man, although on minor charges and first time in jail, felt hopeless as you said and likely thought, wow I must be bad if I’m in jail now. People, esp for the first time in jail and around major court hearings, need to be monitored closer and counseled. They do have counselors on each block of the local jail now.
    By Jean

  22. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    Someone that is suicidal is a lot of work. You have to protect them to cause harm to themselves. And, I am pretty sure, people choose not to hear it, so, they are done with work, and have no responsibility if such thing would happen. But again, when someone wants to commit suicide, not in all cases, but if was me, and i won’t, II wouldn’t tell. I know all the ceremonial it can cause and then going back in the population, no way. Trying to illustrate that we can’t always know. If they swear no, do we have the right to harass them, even if the body language, says yes?
    By Eric

  23. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 7:19 pm #

    I’d rather harrass them and even piss them off than run the risk of them committing suicide. That being said, I don’t actually harrass them 🙂 It’s more like gentle coaxing. I always err on the side of safety, even if it means an infirmary stay. The way I see it is, if I really feel like they’re holding back or lying about it, I’ll make sure they’re safe at the risk of over-reacting. If they’re really ok, then the 24 hours to two days will pass and they’ll be on their way. Pissed, but alive, and knowing that I’m dead serious about suicide. No pun intended, sorry.
    By Kathryn

  24. PrisonPath May 18, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    Bradley, what you said is so true, They don’t realize, or may unconsciously do, that they will always remember the wrong they did. Just like war criminals do, “George Bush Junior. Their mental health label will determine if they do or not. Most labeled with antisocial personality disorders won’t feel the guilt. Them wanting to belong to their peers leads to “acceptable violence”, in prisons. The knowledge required to belong to the Enforcement industry, isn’t what most inmates need. I wanted to like your comment but I dislike the not totally evolved society we live in, that have a hard time loving their shadows, never mind the shadows we created as a society.
    By Eric

  25. PrisonPath May 19, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    That’s another thing, Eric Doyon — you just got my brain hopping! I think the majority of Americans believe that people in jail must be sociopaths. It was rare that I came across a true sociopath while working in the prison. Most of them were just unfortunate in that they hadn’t the skills or the opportunities to figure out their own talents or put themselves to “good” use. I tend to think that the authorities have a higher rate of sociopathy within their ranks. That was my experience, and as you point out, Eric, on a national scale, we often have to suffer with sociopaths for presidents, governors, and so on, who by virtue of their diagnoses really don’t care and can only appear to care about the poor, the unemployed, etc.
    By Kathryn

  26. PrisonPath May 19, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

    Sadly our prison had another suicide Thursday night that was reported late Friday. He was in for a PV and a DUI. I think we need to do all we can to prevent suicides and determine what culture persuades people to think it’s the only way. Something is wrong.
    By Jean

  27. PrisonPath May 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm #

    I’m sorry, Jean, that’s horrible. Don’t the correctional staff/nurses screen the inmates for who looks depressed or who’s making odd comments, etc.? Inmates are referred to us by staff when they go through processing….
    By Kathryn

  28. PrisonPath May 19, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    Yes it is terrible Kathryn. Yes, anyone coming to be incarcerated in the prison has to go through Intake done by the medical provider. Unfortunately, people contemplating suicide are not found. I hear from many that they don’t want to say they’re depressed, etc as the medical staff will strip them and put them in a single cell with nothing for a few days and it’s horrible. I wish they would just watch them more closely and put them with another person which is shown to be better.
    There aren’t enough correctional officers – only one per block of about 100 people. They can’t monitor them that closely. If they are in the medical/mental health unit, they have more officers but even that poses problems.
    By Jean

  29. PrisonPath May 19, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

    I hate to say it, but based on personal experience, a substantial number of the health care personal provide perfunctory care. By Brad

  30. PrisonPath May 19, 2014 at 8:15 pm #

    Wow…could they at least identify the young, first-time offenders for you, Jean? If the medical staff and officers aren’t screening, then that means you have to interview every new intake, which is impossible. Geez. I mean, knowing which folks are on psych meds in the community would be a start, but it sounds like your hands are tied. You don’t get to find out who has a history of suicide attempts or anything. As much as I criticized the local prison when I worked there, I guess in retrospect that process wasn’t so bad, despite the sociopathic staff…
    By Kathryn

  31. PrisonPath May 19, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    myself or work in the prison. Our group works with the prison from an outside perspective and advocates for better processes based on studies and observations.
    If I were helping first-time people to prison, I would definitely be very careful with first-time offenders and so much more if they are on psych meds.
    Our prison had an evaluation by an outside agency a couple years ago after a no of suicides and were to make changes. From what I hear from officers, all the changes weren’t made. The officers are really disgruntled because they are getting the brunt of the criticism when there isn’t enough staff now. They are to increase the staff somewhat but I don’t know if that corresponds to more on each block.
    I think the critical time is during Intake and the first week – two weeks. They need to be observed much more during this time.
    By Jean

  32. PrisonPath May 19, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    And officers many times don’t know who is at risk and they are the first ones usually to find them.
    By Jean

  33. PrisonPath May 24, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    The only thing we need to keep in mind, if volunteering, are they doing it because they feel as if they are better then the inmates, or because they understand the reality unfolding, for many.
    By Eric

  34. PrisonPath May 26, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    that’s exactly it, Eric. That’s what I mean by finding the “right” mentors. You never know what motivates a person to become involved with inmates, and it needs to come from a self-aware, honest place vs. fascination or looking for a man or what have you.
    By Kathryn

  35. PrisonPath May 26, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

    Finding the right volunteers, especially for mentoring inside the walls and outside the gate is most important. We have training that prepares one for this priviledge and it is thorough and effective. It is easy to see who is going for training so they can pat themselves on the back and those who are truly motivated. NO ONE should enter a correctional facility to work WITH the residents unless they are well trained. Residents can pick out a phony very quickly and they know our training is good and they trust us, especially since none of us are paid, we are truly volunteers.
    By Fay

  36. PrisonPath May 27, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    You’re absolutely right Fay. We have developed an 16-hour training program for prospective mentors over 8 weeks. Because we believe that mentors need to be committed to people when released from prison which requires a time allottment in the beginning esp, we think that’s a reasonable expectation. We find that the training really determines who good mentors are and they graduate with a class certification.

    The problem is that it’s harder to get younger mentors as most are busy working and raising families. So they tend to be older women.
    By Jean

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