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Prison system health care - Article Example

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The health care professional should understand the particular need of vulnerable prisoners which include children, women and elderly people. "Admission to prison offers a unique opportunity to assess and to start to meet the health care needs of a population with high levels of physical and psychiatric morbidity, many of whom rarely come into contact with the National Health Service. Drug and alcohol problems can be addressed, blood-borne viral infections identified and treated, dental health improved, and mental health problems assessed and treatment started. However, prisons are not hospitals, and unlike prisoners with serious physical illness, many prisoners with serious mental illnesses requiring National Health Service in-patient care remain in prison." (Reed, J., 2003)
There are four categories of mental disorders according to mental health act. "The four specific categories of mental disorders include mental illness; psychopathic disorders; and arrested or incomplete development of mind, which include most any kind of mental handicap or sub normality ranging from mental impairment to severe mental impairment. The definition is wide and residually includes any other disorder or disability of mind." (Laing, J. M., 1999). The Conservative Government introduced Diversion policy in 1990. This policy aims the mentally ill patients. Through this policy the mentally ill prisoners are diverted into a criminal justice system. This policy considers custody as a last resort in the case of mentally ill person. The government also stresses the need to improve the condition of the jail such as overcrowding. This policy identifies that that at present there is no healing environment in prison for mentally ill patients.
Many mentally ill offenders reported that they at the time of crime they were at the influence of alcohol or drugs. The mentally ill offenders are most often alcohol dependent. "Abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs is common among prisoners because addiction often leads people to crime to support their habit: intoxication may lead to crime; substance abuse itself may be a crime; and drugs are freely available within many prisons. Although most prisons are adult men, adolescent and women may also be imprisoned. Most authorities try hard to keep young people out of institutions, recognizing that many become school for criminals with three quarters or more of the young people reoffending after release. Women in prison are likely to be treated on a medical rather than pumitive model - but often with little success. The same high rates of mental disorder, substance abuse, and HIV infection are seen among women, and there are additional problems of genitourinary infection and of what to do with prison who are pregnant or have young children". (Lock, S. et al., 2001)
With the help of many specific program and evidence based approaches can certainly reduce the number of mentally ill inmates and drug addicts in jail. "While it may be true that in prison women take fewer drugs than on the outside, it would be a mistake to think that prisons are entirely drug free environments. Indeed, almost half of the women in the home office study reported that they had used an illegal substance while in custody-27% heroin,21% cannabis and 17% tranquilizers- albeit less frequently than in the year prior to ...Show more
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Summary

One of the major challenges in the civilized society is the rising level of mentally ill patients in jail with shortage in healthcare professionals. It is a fact that thousands of people with mental health problem do not receive any treatment in jail. It is the policy of many governments to treat mental diseases in jail rather than simply punishing the patients…
Prison system health care
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