Jail is NOT the place for a mentally ill person. They need professional, individualized attention!

by kames2 on April 25, 2014 - 3:16pm

There are lots of places that offer help in various ways to individuals but the struggle is helping them overcome the social stigma they encounter.  I don’t believe that everyone who ends up in jail has a mental health disorder but what I do believe is that a lot of people end up there because they have an undiagnosed medical condition.  People are not discussing their issues because they don’t want to be diagnosed and stigmatized into the mental illness group.  This stigma is magnified in the criminal justice system, here’s the story: a man who is twenty one years of age was put in jail without bail on his first ever offense and what authorities were unaware of was his mental health disorders and later found out he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and he was bi-polar.  The man then sat in jail and was denied bail which prevented him from being able to get a place to live or a job once he was released no facility would accept him because of the fact that he was denied bail.  

Police officers are trained to act against any possible threat to their authority; they don’t understand the diagnosis of a mental illness while on the job.  The general public reinforces the psychological mental health issue with social stigma.  The people who get sent to jail should have a mental diagnosis done if they haven’t had one done before.  If people with a mental health diagnosis have the chance to receive counseling they may not do the things that get them put into jail.  The mental health court provides them with a second chance to improve their lives and avoid going to jail by helping them learn how to appropriately convey to people that they are not a threat.  People with mental health illnesses should have equal opportunity for entrance into facilities such as temporary housing or mental health services.  Max Weber introduces the idea about Social Order and under that social order you have a status group which pertains to communities.  The mentally ill get put into this group and it’s an unfair negative estimation of every person that falls into this group.  Weber also discusses social honor under social order which is tied to life (social) fate and the idea that your life is already predestined to be what it is going to be so the struggles lie within the stigma the general public imposes on this status group.  This idea of social order can also be incorporated with another one of Weber’s ideas called Instrumental Rationality which is doing something to get an end result.  The end result would ultimately be to stop the social stigma but a result that would be more likely to happen is to lessen it because there will always be people that are judgmental no matter what and cause this social stigma.  The mentally ill people are their own community and their status depends on how they connect with other people.  The social stigma is tied to the group rather than the individual and this constitutes that the group is looked down on by society.

            Genesee County Mental Health Services located in Batavia New York is a government agency that assists county residents who have mental health symptoms in working together to get back into society as functioning members of the community while respecting each individuals pride and dignity.  People with mental health illnesses may or may not mean to do what gets them thrown in jail.  Genesee County Mental Health Services is great for helping the clients that get referred to them by developing the support individuals need to be more functional.  Social stigma is something that low ranked class status’ get.  The mental health facilities have inputs, outputs, outcomes and activities that they offer.  The main assumption of this facility is that if people come and get the help they need they can be transformed into a better person all around.  There are many things that the clinic does.  Using the logic model some inputs of the facility would be the money that is brought into the facility and the employees.  Outputs of this facility would be how many people they can actually help, the accomplishments made by the facility and the programs they have implemented to help the people that they serve.  Some of the services that are available are things such as an outpatient clinic, day opportunity center, case management, community education and crisis services which are all great options but they have to match the right option with individuals otherwise they won’t be getting what it is they need to get well.  An improvement for this facility would be to better prepare the clients for the social stigma that they are going to encounter.  They want the clients to go out and be more independent but they fall back into the hands of the clinic because of the lack of preparation and clients don’t know how to handle it.  The overall outcome of the facility is to maximize people’s lives and help them realize and reach their full potential.  More information about these services can be found at: http://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/mentalhealth/servicesavailable.html

            Statistics are showing that in state institutions such as prison that nearly half of the people that are put there have a mental health illness.   “More than two-fifths of State prisoners (43%) and more than half of jail inmates (54%) reported symptoms that met the criteria for mania (James & Glaze, p.1, 2006).”  It isn’t right for someone to be held without bail when they do something like that when they have not had a mental health examination done by a professional.  Every person has the right to services and that is an important one that shouldn’t be denied.  It is important for the mentally ill to get help and have the support system that they need.  Mental Health Services provide the opportunities that these mentally ill people need to get back on their feet. 

The end result that the Genesee County Mental Health Services want to accomplish is to get people back into society as functioning members without the depending on the facility.  Before those who are mentally ill have to waste time just sitting in jail there needs to be a mental health test done that the person has to go through to see if jail is where they need to be or if a mental health clinic or hospital is where they should be.  The test should be done based off of a series of questions that are asked to inmates by a professional so that it is structured and strictly a clinical interview.  Those inmates in jail that had a mental health illnesses were more likely to have been through some sort of physical (sexual) or mental abuse in their past.  People’s experiences in life really shape how a person eventually turns out and if their life is filled with one let down after another then they are more likely to develop mental problems.






James, D. J., & Glaze, L. E. (2006, December 4). Mental Health Problems of 
     Prison and Jail Inmates. Retrieved April 17, 2014, from Bureau of Justice 
     Statistics: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mhppji.pdf 


I like your post and how strongly you point out your arguments. However, I’m not entirely sure I agree with you, some mental illnesses are hard if not impossible to treat at the moment making it hard to agree with your point that mentally ill people should be allowed back into society. I totally agree that a stigma to mental illness by the society is what makes them look “inferior” (for lack of better word) to society itself (Weber’s idea of social order), although they are surely not “inferior” but equal to every single person. Informing people on mental illnesses, especially people of the law, is the best way to enable the mentally ill people to go to a facility for them instead of jail. So many organizations are trying to get the word out today, for example the Canadian Mental Health Association (http://www.cmha.ca/), which promotes help for all and spreads out information by supporting the Bell Let’s Talk campaign (http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/our-initiatives/).
The stigma of mental illness is decreasing every day now, but that doesn’t mean that some prisoners who are ill should get out of prison. My belief is that some of them are safer there, as much for themselves as for society.