Is the criminal Justice system taking the necessary steps to support inmate mental health?

    Author Name(s)

    Austin Pancratz

    Faculty Advisor(s)

    HyeSun Lee

    Abstract

    With the highest number of incarcerated people in the world, prison reform is long overdue in the United States. There has been some pressure on our criminal justice system to implement certain types of prison reform but these issues usually don’t take priority. From overcrowding to violence and racism, the prison system has many issues that still need improvement. One of the issues that may get overlooked is inmate mental health. While it may be difficult to adequately provide all the mental health services inmates need. There is evidence that some prisons are taking the necessary steps to provide treatment for those in dire need. In the 2016 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey of inmates across America, 29% of incoming inmates received some sort of mental health counseling or therapy from a professional mental health worker. A preliminary logistic regression was run to investigate if we could predict if inmates are currently in a mental health treatment program by using their diagnosable disorders as predictors. The results showed that all diagnosed mental disorders were significant predictors for currently being enrolled in a treatment program. Another logistic regression was run to investigate the question, can prison violations predict current enrollment in a mental health treatment program? Prison violations are serious issues that may warrant solitary confinement or result in an inmate’s sentence being extended, depending on the severity of the violation. These violations which result in formal writeups, put the safety of guards and other inmates at risk. One may argue that priority of treatment should be given to those who are not being compliant with prison rules and causing disturbances. The analysis results indicated that committing a prison violation was a significant predictor for current enrollment in a mental health treatment program. (β=.110, p=.002, Exp(B)= 1.116) These results provide evidence that the criminal justice system is taking the necessary steps for reformation.

    Presentation

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