Why are correctional officers the first line of help for mentally ill prisoners?

“Lock” by Omer Unlu licensed under CC BY 2.0

Source: NPR

Although correctional officers have not had much (or any) training in working with mentally ill patients, they are still the first line of help for many of the mentally ill prisoners across the U.S.

More than half of prisoners in the U.S. are suffering from mental illness, as reported by NPR, and many of them are not receiving adequate care or assistance from professionals who were trained to work with mentally ill patients.

More often than not, prisoners are punished for showing signs of mental illness, such as self-harm, says one expert. But this can be “devastating” to someone with a mental illness and actually makes the problem worse, says journalist Alisa Roth.

When a correctional officer, who is trained to escalate his response to a defying prisoner, begins to escalate an incident, then a prisoner with a mental illness will likely respond in an even more violent manner. So why are correctional officers the first line of help for prisoners dealing with mental illness?

This issue has become a major concern among correctional officers who maintain that they did not sign up to be the first to identify who is challenged with a mental illness.

Read Full Story: NPR

Justice & Poverty, News
Justice & Poverty, News