Cultural Perspectives

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In "Race and Ethnicity, Mental Health Services and Cultural Competence in the Criminal Justice System: Are we Ready to Change" the authors examine disparities that exist in the judicial system. They call for action from all agencies that have a stake affected in solving these problems…

Introduction

Non-white populations are subject to worse charges, fewer early releases, higher conviction rates, and harsher sentences throughout the system. Constitutional amendments have forbidden such institutionalization of discrimination between whites and non-whites, but disparities still exist in many social areas.
About 20% of people in prison or jail or on probation for violent crimes have a mental illness, but only about 13% of the total correctional workforce is appropriately trained counselors, psychologists, medical staff, chaplains, or social workers. Thus, there is a lack of appropriate such services in corrections, a deficiency which will continue so long as there are unreliable means of evaluating clinical effectiveness. Furthermore, the lack of such services in the community at large places people at greater risk for behaviors that beg the scrutiny of the judicial system.
Based on the importance of cultural awareness, the study recommends certain public policy changes to address these problems. Not only do The Eight and Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution the legally guarantee certain provisions for people in custody or engaged in due process but also there is an ethical imperative to provide necessary medical care for incarcerated people. ...
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