The lack of mental health treatment in New York prisons has been described as “cruel and unusual punishment.” A 2017 report by the Department of Justice found that mentally ill prisoners are more likely to be held in solitary confinement and they are likely to be victimized by other prisoners and prison staff.
Inadequate mental health treatment in prisons
The shortage of mental health treatment to meet the need of prisoner’s rights is a human rights issue. It is universally considered to be inhumane to detain people with mental illness in prisons without providing adequate treatment. Human Rights Watch expressed this concern in 2009 to the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law.
Mental health problems are common among prisoners. In the U.S., it is estimated that 20% of prisoners have a mental illness. However, most prisons do not have adequate resources to provide proper mental health care. As a result, inmates with mental illness often do not receive the treatment they need and are instead held in solitary confinement or subjected to other forms of punishment that can exacerbate their condition.
The impact of the lack of mental health treatment in prisons
It is well-documented that prisoners in the United States do not receive adequate mental health treatment. This is a problem for several reasons:
- It violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.
- It leads to higher recidivism rates, as prisoners with mental health problems are more likely to re-offend if they do not receive treatment.
- It creates an unsafe environment for prisoners and prison staff.
Making prisons safter
A lack of adequate mental health treatment can severely impact prisoners. Without treatment, prisoners with mental health problems may act out in ways that are harmful to themselves or others. They may also become suicidal. In addition, untreated mental illness can worsen other existing medical conditions.