While at least half of all prisoners have a mental health problem, between 10 and 25 percent of American prisoners suffer from serious mental illnesses, such as severe affective disorders or schizophrenia. That compares with an average rate of about 5 percent of serious mental illness in the general American population.
I think that if more prisoners received psychological evaluations on a regular basis, the above statistics would definitely be much higher. Those statistics only take into account those who were diagnosed before being incarcerated and those who were diagnosed only after giving the Department a serious enough reason to conduct a psychological evaluation.
Inmates who never showed signs of mental illness are losing their minds in jail while serving their sentences. The overuse of solitary confinement, overcrowding and other inhumane conditions must be changed so that inmates do not return home worse off, resulting in some people returning to prisons and jails. Can you imagine the effect this type of treatment has on someone’s mental state?
In addition to the routine deprivations of prison, there is solitary confinement, which subjects offenders to mind-deteriorating environments and situations. It is common practice for inmates to be housed in segregated confinement areas for: 23 hours a day on weekdays and 24 hours a day on weekends. That, without programming or meaningful social interaction, is hard on mental health.
Solitary confinement is often referred to as a “bing,” “box,” “hole,” or “shoe,” and I know people who have entered confinement without symptoms of mental illness and become mentally ill while confined in this way. When a prisoner is subjected to the sudden impact of military routines and abuse of authority, the result is the prisoner: depression, paranoia, antisocial personality disorders, anxiety, and adjustment disorders, along with many more psychological disabilities.
Inhumane policies are driving our loved ones crazy. That is why I recommend postcards for art therapy inmates. Solitary confinement affects the mindset of almost everyone who spends a significant amount of time in it, destructively. He isolates the mind and then forcefully places the prisoner in an environment infested with negative influences, betrayal, oppression, and violence. Only a few and only the strong survive and lead productive lives; we need to protect others.
Our loved ones shouldn’t have to go home mentally scarred from a system that takes their mental health for granted. Instead, corrections should focus on rehabilitation and therapy so that they can return home willing and able to succeed. Taxpayers pay for most prisons, and communities suffer the most when inmates return from jail with mental health problems. The people of America deserve better.