Decades ago mental health illnesses are treated by the society as untreatable and permanent illness. Patients suffering of which are isolated by the society (Rivera, 2004). This issue is considered as a contemporary because it is important that the modern society should now treat and consider these illnesses in the right way. The state should consider persons suffering in mental illnesses have civil rights, especially the right to be treated by the government. The state should provide health care facilities for mental illnesses.
They should not just be left behind just to die in prisons without undergoing proper treatment. According to federal statistics, the U. S. had almost 600,000 hospital beds funded by the state for people suffering from various mental sicknesses. Nowadays, there are only less than 40,000 beds, primarily because of federal and state funding decrease (Robbins, 1999). It is high time that we should lobby that such facilities and funding for it should increase. Corrections should not be treated as the correct facilities for patients of mental sickness.
The federal suit filed in Florida and the bill passed in New York should serve as a wakeup call for legislators and other federal state agencies to look into the details of the situations in their respective states. This issue should not be set aside for the monetary costs and the social implications of maintaining a person suffering from mental health illnesses in prisons is costly. Imprisonment should not be the treatment for these persons for it will not only treat their illnesses, but will also aggravate its symptoms and indications.
The issue is a complicated one. The whole criminal justice system should do their part on recognizing the rights of the person with mental illnesses. First, the police officers should be trained to handle such situations. They should treat suspects suffering from mental sickness different from ordinary suspects. Secondly, the court should also give weight on the condition of the offender as a mitigating circumstance in relation to the crime the latter committed. Lastly, the prison should not be the proper place for them.
The court should direct the police officers to put the person in proper facilities that can treat and handle the patients. If they are being held in prison, or they developed their illnesses in prison, they should also be ordered to be transferred in mental health treatment facilities. I also strongly suggest that state prisons should have modern and organized psychology departments. Therapists and psychologists should monitor the mental health of the prisoners. For it is very difficult for prisoners to cope up with their new environment.
From a fast-paced and ordinary life, they have to be used to a cell limiting their movements and activities. This will sometimes result to emotional breakdowns and depression. The state prison should have well-planned and implemented treatment program. The prisoners in the treatment program undergo individual and group psychotherapy from clinical psychologists, social workers, and a psychiatrist. Moreover, the people running the psychology department should run psychological tests on every new prisoner being brought in the facility.
These newcomers might be suffering from serious mental health illness that the treatment program and the prison will be not enough for their case and treatment that they should be transferred to a mental health facility. Moreover, the family of the offender should also be involved. As the immediate people related to the offender, they should also be trained and be informed on the situation of the offender. After the released of the offender in prison or in mental health facilities, the family should assist and help the patients so that their treatment and development will continue.
Lastly, we as members of the society can also do a major contribution. We should understand the situation and the illness the persons are suffering. Being understandable enough on their situations will be a great input in solving the problem. Sometimes, the old way of dealing on problems like in the issue at bar is not the proper way. We should have a second look and think about it so that we can treat the problem the correct way.
References Bowman, L. E. (2005). The Emperor Has No Clothes: A Journalist Sees the Criminal Justice System.Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 95(4), 1411+. Cook, J. R. (2001). Asphalt Justice: A Critique of the Criminal Justice System in America. Westport, CT: Praeger. Rivera, R. M. (2004). The Mentally Ill Offender: A Brighter Tomorrow through the Eyes of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004. Journal of Law and Health, 19(1), 107+. Robbins, I. P. (1999). Managed Health Care in Prisons as Cruel and Unusual Punishment. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 90(1), 195.