Authors

Sahil Jain

Publication Date

11-2011

Category

Equality/Civil Rights

Abstract

Police, court personnel, and correctional staff interact with, stabilize, and treat more persons with mental illness than any other system in America—making criminal justice agencies the largest mental health provider in the United States. Yet a wide gap exists between the training of corrections staff and the enormous responsibility they have for day-to-day management of mental health issues. To narrow this gap in jail and prison settings, the best practices include training programs, screening procedures, communication between staff, and good documentation. Quality mental health services help maintain security by reducing inmate and staff stress levels and helping to facilitate offender participation in rehabilitative programming. They increase the likelihood of successful reintegration of mentally ill offenders into the community by promoting adequate community based mental health care follow-up, thereby contributing to reduced recidivism. By following these best practices, correctional organizations can also reduce the likelihood of expensive civil litigation or other legal actions that can result from inadequate correctional mental health services.

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