Studies show that as many as 90% of prisoners have some kind of mental health issue and admissions to psychiatric hospital are also common (10% of male and 30% of female prisoners).
This updated briefing paper from the Centre for Mental Health examines the provision of mental health care for adults in the criminal justice system. It looks at what has been achieved to date and identifies priorities for further work.
The 12-page PDF is available for free on the Centre for Mental Health website.
The briefing concludes:
There is an urgent need to improve mental health care for all offenders. People with mental health problems need to have access to mental health treatment and support at all stages of the criminal justice system. This can be achieved by better services in the community to stop people being imprisoned; investment in improved prison mental health care; and more effective support with rehabilitation and resettlement ‘through the gates’.
The Government has set itself an ambitious agenda to make many of these improvements. If diversion is implemented nationally, with good quality community support, it will go a long way to improve the health of a very disadvantaged group of people, to make communities safer and to save significant sums of public money.
￼Mental health care and the criminal justice system: briefing 39 (PDF). Centre for Mental Health, 19th Sep 2011.
A pet-peeve of mine is the court imprisoning someone who is mentally ill, only to exacerbate their symptoms through the trauma of prison!