However as the population of prisoners increase by day, the conditions surrounding the imprisoned in the country have deteriorated. There is a need for better health care in prisons and for an improvement in the prisoners’ general life inside bars. The National Health Service for example has recently got the mandate to look into matters of health care for prisoners taking over this duty from the prison service (Williamson 2006). This is a good call since there is admittedly a need to look into social and health issues of the prisoners. This paper will discuss the social and health needs of the prisoners in the United Kingdom and the reasons as to why the needs are relevant to the wider community. There is a wide spread concern that the rules and regimes of the prison environment could have detrimental impacts on the mental health of the prisoners and especially those with mental illnesses already. It is also well documented that the incidences of psychiatric morbidity and substance abuse is higher among the prisoners than the general public. Thus with the growing population, there are now more people with mental illnesses in the prisons than ever before (Harris, Hek and Condon 2007). The overcrowding, separation from family and friends, loss of autonomy and boredom are potentially detrimental to the mental stability of the prisoners. There is therefore a need to improve the state of mental healthcare so as to get to the main of objectives of the prisons to be anti-therapeutic environments. There is a need to really care for the prisoners from reception through to discharge mentally so as to improve their perceptions in the quality of their lives. The staff administering mental healthcare inside the prisons should have extra training to identify the prisoners who need extra support, those with history of mental illness and those who will be on remand for a long time (Brooker 2009). The population of the prisons in England and Wales has doubled in the last 20 years thus making the prisons to overcrowd. Overcrowding is the state where a prison contains more prisoners than the establishment’s CNA (Certified Normal Accommodation). THE United Kingdom has the highest percentage of overcrowding in Europe. The overcrowding leads to enormous burdens on the staff making it difficult to offer adequate resources to the offenders. This exacerbates tension and frustration levels by prisoners leading to higher risks of violence. This leaves prisoners under the danger of being hurt or killed. It also deteriorates the living conditions where inmates eat, sleep and even defecate in the cell, like in the case of Bedford, a condition which leaves them to the danger of infections. The overcrowding also denies some prisoners the access to education, training and work. This is because there is a high demand due to the high population. Overcrowding also brings difficulties in mental, drug and alcohol abuse treatment services. It is also expensive and increases the risk of a prisoner to committing crimes after release due to the above inconveniences (Singleton et al 1998). Some of the prisoners are fathers and mothers. This means that they are forced to combine serving their sentences and parenting. Their families therefore need support from the society and the administration. Their kids are especially at risks of experiencing poverty, mental illnesses, poor housing and more negative incomes. Most children with parents in prison will most likely go on to offend. There are also the
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