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Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

Deplorable Prison Conditions Can Deteriorate Prisoners’ Mental Health.

In mental health, prison mental health problems, restorative justice on September 5, 2014 at 7:24 am

Noted psychiatrist and president of the Psychiatrists Association, Dr. Varma Deyalsingh, reportedly commented on the impact of prison conditions on the mental health of incarcerated persons. He has made some valuable suggestions for the treatment of the issues which go beyond the current recommendations from other quarters for the installation of CCTV cameras in prisons.

Dr. Deyalsingh intimated that prisons authorities need to implement measures of assessment (of prisoners and their prior mental health issues) as soon as possible and deal with prison conditions as well such as allow prison authorities to work closely with the police and the judicial system to ensure that cases are expedited and that prisoners have their matters dealt with in the shortest possible time.

CURB hopes that the prison authorities work closely with the civilian arm of the prisons, the Council of Prison Chaplains and Ministers (COPCAM), to develop effective means whereby assessment and monitoring of potentially suicidal inmates can occur. We believe that the members of COPCAM can support the work being done by the trained psychologists and other mental health professionals in the prison system, even as budgetary allocations are made for a greater number of permanent mental health staff for the thousands of prisoners and remanded persons in the local prison system.

We hope this matter receives the priority it deserves as the Ministry of Justice prepares to host the nation’s first Restorative Justice Conference in October, 2014. Preventing, reducing and addressing mental health issues of both victims and offenders is a key component in the process of the restoration to wholeness of persons involved in the criminal justice system.

 

via Deplorable Prison Conditions Can Deteriorate Prisoners’ Mental Health..

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Prisoners Found Hanging in Trinidad and Tobago Prisons.

In mental health, prison mental health problems, restorative justice on September 5, 2014 at 7:04 am

The second reported suicide within 2 weeks has allegedly occurred in the prison system in Trinidad and Tobago. Each victim was a male inmate, the first serving a sentence and the other on remand for murder.

In each instance, the State failed to fulfil the conditions of the warrant under which it received the individuals and the inmates’ families are left grieving. The first alleged suicide may be linked to unfair treatment the victim may have been receiving at the hands of prison staff. A motive for the latter may be that the victim had become despondent over the slow pace of justice in brining his matter to trial.

While many may see this as “just desserts” for persons convicted and accused of violent crimes, CURB maintains that continuous exposure to situations which instil such a sense of despair in people that they contemplate self-harm ought never to be a hallmark of the penal system in this twin island nation.

Mental health challenges are a known consequence of incarceration. Anticipation of these collateral outcomes and a thorough risk assessment and action plan to address the same must be a feature of any modern corrections system. Some may consider the continued failure to allocate sufficient resources to address these issues as a dereliction of duty or an example of negligent homicide.

A recent determination in Canada after a coroner’s inquest has indicated that corrections officials there were possibly guilty of homicide in the aftermath of the suicide of a female inmate. The decision was accompanied by several recommendations from the civilian panel as to key changes to be made to the system so as to prevent future self-harm incidents. Regrettably, corrections officials have signalled that costly recommendations (though potentially effective to reduce self-harm) may not be implemented.

CURB has been speaking to issues of prison abuse and self harm of inmates for the past 7 years. The lack of interest shown by some prison authorities and policy makers is symptomatic of the lack of interest on the part of members of the public as to the abuses and atrocious conditions which exist behind bars. We consider such attitudes to be myopic and proof of the lack of information as to the correlation between in-prison conditions and public safety.

CURB maintains that the local and global evidence clearly supports our contention that the continued abuse of incarcerated persons and or their exposure to conditions which fail to meet the UN minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners is a catalyst for re-offending. In the past 10 years, the local re-offending rate has purportedly risen from 56% to over 70%.

Just as our hearts are pained for the families of victims of crime, we mourn the loss of these lives entrusted to a failing criminal justice system. It is a travesty of justice for a convicted prisoner for a term of years to not be able to re-enter society upon the expiry of his warrant and a greater travesty for a person accused of an offence to never get his constitutional day in court. We can only hope and pray that the loved ones of these men do not engender a hatred for society and the State to whom they may ascribe blame for the deaths of their incarcerated relatives.

We await the outcome of these instances and wonder whether a Canadian-style legal challenge which holds the State and prison officials accountable for self-harm by inmates may not be needed to spark improvements in the operations of our nation’s prisons.

via Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday : newsday.co.tt :.

Hope Coming for Cayman Mentally Ill Prisoners

In mental health, prison abuse on August 13, 2008 at 12:58 pm

The Cayman Islands government has recently committed $1 million in this year’s budget towards the expenses for a long-term mental health institution that could accommodate individuals who are held in prisons for their own or others’ safety. The facility is expected to cost $4 million to complete.

Such a facility comes in the wake of frequent calls from Magistrates for long-term care facilities and half-way houses for offenders with mental health issues who commit crimes, often when they fail to take their prescribed medication.

The issue was highlighted last month in a UK House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee report, which mentioned a mentally ill person who had been in prison “without charge and without review” for nine years!

Director of Prisons Bill Rattray acknowledged that there were “no facilities on Cayman in terms of people who may have mental health problems who are also charged with criminal offences or convicted of criminal offences or people might be concerned that they will commit criminal offences. As opposed to being held untried, they can be remanded to a place of safety.”

Under the Mental Health Act, Northwood Prison is designated as an institution in which individuals can be remanded under a place of safety order if they are considered a danger to themselves or others. However, mentally ill inmates are often treated with scant regard and become extremely vulnerable to prison sexual and physical assault from other inmates and staff.

Dr. Marc Lockhart, a psychiatrist who has been visiting Northward Prison once a month since 2004 to review inmates with mental health issues, said that there are more and more people incarcerated that require mental health services. He said the government is considering an institution that could house between 20 and 30 individuals, as well as a number of “community homes” to which they could go after receiving intensive treatment.

The Cayman authorities have also promised to give $1 million for a juvenile detention centre which is also lacking on island and which has also been requested repeatedly by magistrates.

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