Awareness of the Use of Prisons as Mental Health Institutions

Topic: Healthcare Research
Words: 1756 Pages: 6
Table of Contents


The concept of using prisons as mental health institutions has been commonly practiced, especially in the United States, since deinstitutionalization in 1960. In this essay, my chosen issue is “Prisons as mental health institutions.” This topic is essential for me and society because prisoners and correlation workers are commonly subjected to crime and violence. A conducive working environment is critical to the well-being of every employee in any social institution. Therefore, stress, violence, and other negative factors affect a person’s mental state, which determines the normal functioning of an individual.

The focus of this position paper aims at promoting awareness regarding the effects of crime and violence on the target group. Further, legal assistance will be sought to encourage policies that ensure the safety and justice of the affected victims. The following includes a list of this study’s main goals and objectives. Firstly, most individuals do not understand their rights and the need to preserve them. This is evidenced when misconducts are allowed in society without any legal action. In this concept, the right to the divinity of human life will be a basis for the discussion since illiteracy significantly contributes to violence.

In analyzing the above issue, my evidence will be based on research conducted in a cross-sectional study utilizing the Iowa Corrections Offender Network. This will examine the impacts of mental illness and the prevalence rates and related co morbidities among the state prison systems’ inmates. The data analysis showed that almost half (48%) of prisoners had a mental illness, and 29% had intense mental health problems (Al-Rousan et al., 2017). It was further indicated that almost all the inmates developed mental disorders in their first year of admission. The above study is of great importance to the selected topic since it suggests that the prison managements are unaware of health problems and are reluctant of addressing them.

The behavioral theory can be used in this scenario to explain the issue of the use of prisons as mental health institutions. The concept bases its ideas on human behavior development through various experiences in life. Specifically, it depicts that reactions individuals get from the surrounding environment majorly affect their character. This is further accredited as a form of conditioning where reinforcement by punishments and rewards influences the mode of conduct. The participants, in this case, can be examined through interactions and interviewing. In that regard, their reactions to their jail experience can easily give a clue on the concerned people’s perspective towards prison. Most importantly, some of these individuals can decide to narrate their problems and open up about any changes that might have occurred since they encountered such scary situations. An example of a statement that can communicate my social advocacy is: ‘All prisoners have a right to be treated equally, and preserving their human rights is critical’.


Regarding the above discussed issue, my social advocacy position is to identify people who have been imprisoned and provide relevant support and advice. This may include educating them on the need to know their rights and empower them to seek justice when they feel aggrieved. My other significant role is to examine the victims’ characters and how the behavioral theory has been applied in the research. From the literature review, historical data indicate a higher number of prisoners in the U.S. compared to the number in mental institutions. Further, investigation suggests that jails and reformatories cannot handle challenges, and the lack of political will and states to address this issue is rampant. For individuals with mental disorders, continued stay in detentions worsens their health status by denying them therapy sessions.

The introduction of an advocacy group is essential since it will help find ways of resolving legal disputes concerning the perpetrators. Additionally, the sufferers can be educated and provided with methods they can apply to improve their living conditions. Criminals found guilty must be subjected to fines and later rehabilitation services to restore their morals. The existing and new cases of mental disorders brought by prison settings should be eradicated and the victims taken to mental hospitals for treatment.

An example of stereotypes relating to the issues in discussion is that prisoners are considered to be of low status and do not need legal assistance in facing the law. Validity is seen in a study of national data on more than 5,000 inmates and more than 200 prisons (Edgemon & Clay-Warner, 2018). The conditions they face in their place of residence and their impact on their health in general. Further, the study showed no laws or strategies to alleviate the psychological stress in prisons. This stereotype’s effect worsens mental health conditions which further disorient normal human health. In severe cases, the inmates may develop other associated disorders. The persistence of this issue is seen since research continuously indicates that the prisoners still have mental health disorders.

Another common perception is that receiving legal assistance after developing a mental condition while in prison is shameful. The validity of this concept is seen when most inmates suffer and reveal their illness, experience oppression and rejection, and the people around them develop a negative attitude towards their health states. The effects are extended to the societies and the family members. Some might be parents, and staying away from their children denies them interaction and denying them their basic needs. The consistency is felt in the modern society whereby the victim’s relatives fail to expose their beloved ones who have been jailed for fear of being misjudged.

Recent social change regarding the use of prisons as mental health institutions is realized since improved prison designs have been implemented such that they are beneficial to the inmates. An example is creating structures where prisoners can be trained basic skills such as carpentry and tailoring (O’Connell & Rogan, 2022). Additionally, institutions such as family, schools, and religion create awareness of the consequences of disobeying the law. This occurs due to the influence they make on people and how this affects the society. For instance, a child who has grown up in a family is educated about the importance of the law and the impact of engaging themselves in crimes (Raza et al., 2021). From my personal experience, I was found guilty of breaking the standard rule of wearing masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The police did not hesitate to take me to prison, where I did pay the fine and later I was released. The above encounter almost led me into a depression since I felt my rights were being abused. However, after that, I learned the importance of following rules and regulations.

The stereotype of considering prisoners of low status originated from the Romans by the influence of some philosophers like Plato. Imprisonment was a penalty for those who failed to clear their fines, especially in the Athenian community. The social institutions such as families were responsible for educating their children on regulations and order. Similarly, a cultural concept of this stereotype originated from the community where elders were chosen to maintain peace and harmony and punish the offenders (Butz & Fording, 2021). The stereotypes of making one feel shameful for receiving legal assistance due to a mental disorder originated in the U.S. in the 19th century, where the inmates received objection and shame from the public (Gomez, 2022). Socially, rejection affected people’s interactions leading to low self-esteem levels.

From the current conditions of prisons, involving psychotherapists’ can make these institutions mental diagnosis area. When a person is jailed, an investigation should be done, and if found a victim, continued care should be made mandatory (Durcan & Zwemstra, 2019). Education in schools and public areas has positively impacted the victims’ perspectives (Lerman et al., 2021). Families have become more sensitive, and members who are found guilty can pay their fines and their behaviors corrected. In society, cultural aspects such as marriages and weddings allow people to learn about positive and negative effects through interactions.

The sociological theory of human interaction is the most appropriate for making modern and historical interpretations. It works on the principle that human beings interact in many ways, influencing their overall behavior (Kumar et al., 2021). From the historical perspective, rules and laws were imparted to children younger, and cases of breaking laws were few (Michalski, 2020). However, most parents have focused on jobs and other businesses in modern society, looking for money and failing parental duties. Social media exposure has also contributed to crimes and violence.


While analyzing the issue, ethical challenges include informed consent and confidentiality. To preserve the dignity of the participants, the researcher must explain the details of the study and disclose the expected benefits and risks. However, in some scenarios, making them aware poses a challenge in revealing confidential information and irrelevant data (Fuller Torrey et al., 2010). For example, when collecting information about a particular mental health disorder case, informing the target audience of this will lead to suspicion hence hiding the truth.

Confidentiality is needed since matters associated with private data are crucial. Therefore, the investigators are ethically obliged to keep this information such that it cannot be used against the participants. A good example is when a murder occurs, and the individuals close to the victim are required to give some information about the incident. If the case becomes too sensitive and the sources of the information are needed, they might be jailed as they may be associated with the murder.

The key points from the analysis discussed the stereotypes associated with prisons being used as mental health facilities. The traditional insights and perspectives are linked with them by examining the cultural and social scenarios. Traditionally, there were few cases of inmates due to moral teaching compared to the modern view. This was evidenced by studies that showed that a more considerable percentage of prisoners developed mental health conditions. My universal statement concerning these issues is that using prisons as mental health institutions should be improved to create other opportunities?

Education should be made compulsory in schools and organized workshops to lessen the negative impact of prisons as mental health centers. Students should learn from an early age about the law and the importance of serving it. The prisoners’ health conditions should be investigated frequently to curb worsening conditions. Suspects of violence should be treated with respect and their rights obeyed and preserved. Lastly, the government should review policies concerning violence and do away with oppressive penalties like life imprisonment. My final position on this issue is that jails should be conducive places for the inmates.


Butz, A., & Fording, R. (2021). The color of corrections: Racial politics and prison privatization. Social Policy & Administration, 56(1), 180-194. Web.

Edgemon, T. G., & Clay-Warner, J. (2018). Inmate mental health and the pains of imprisonment. Society and Mental Health, 9(1), 33-50. Web.

Fuller Torrey, E., Kennard, A. D., Eslinger, D., Lamb, R., & Pavie, J. (2010). More mentally ill persons are in jails and prisons than hospitals: A survey of the states. U.S. Department of Justice, 1-22. Web.

Gomez, E. (2022). Mass incarceration: Prisoners are people, not enslaved people. UC Merced Undergraduate Research Journal, 14(1). Web.

Kumar, P., Gruzd, A., & Mai, P. (2021). Mapping out violence against women of influence on Twitter using the cyber–lifestyle routine activity theory. American Behavioral Scientist, 65(5), 689-711. Web.

Lerman, A. E., Harney, J., & Sadin, M. (2021). Prisons and mental health: Violence, organizational support, and the effects of corrective work. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 49(2), 181-199. Web.

Michalski, J. (2020). The sociological determinants of scientific bias. Journal of Moral Education, 51(1), 47-60. Web.

O’Connell, C., & Rogan, M. (2022). Monitoring prisons in Europe: Understanding perspectives of people in prison and prison staff. Law &Amp; Social Inquiry, 1-31. Web.

Raza, S., Zaman, U., & Iftikhar, M. (2021). We are examining the effects of media-generated stereotypes on receivers’ trust and attitude in Pakistan and moderating the influence of ethnicity and gender. Information, 12(1), 35. Web.

Yearby, R., Clark, B., & Figueroa, J. (2022). Structural racism in historical and modern U.S. health care policy. Health Affairs, 41(2), 187-194. Web.

Educational Sessions with Cancer Patients’ Family
Translational Research and Evidence-Based Practice