Archive for the ‘prison mental health problems’ 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..

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 : :.

CURB Attends TASER Seminar.

In prison abuse, prison mental health problems, prison sexual abuse on April 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Today CURB was represented among a small group of selected attendees at a seminar on the use of TASERS as a non-lethal tool for law enforcement.

After having campaigned for the end of sexual and physical abuse of prison inmates and detainees for several years, we were interested to hear how TASERS could be incorporated into the prison settings to reduce the extent of physical harm occasioned to inmates.

The seminar took place at A&E Tactical in Trincity Industrial Estate. In addition to CURB, other invited guests were from WINAD (which has been doing excellent work to address the proliferation of small arms in the country), COSTATT’s criminal justice and law lecture team, Chamber of Commerce and a well-known security firm.

We were informed that a similar seminar had been conducted for representatives of the protective services once week before. There were some concerns as to why the police were not using the almost 500 tasers they had purchased over the years. Some persons suggested that there was some doubt as to the legality of the tasers since no specific legislation had been passed authorising their use by police.

CURB is aware that non-lethal tools such as tasers have been incorporated in corrections facilities in developed nations as a means of controlling high risk situations involving inmates. From the research presented at the seminar, there have been relatively few cases of deaths or serious injury from the use of tasers as compared with other traditional tools or instruments for the use of force.

We await with bated breath to learn how this situation unfolds. Hopefully, the owners at A&E Tactical would make a strong lobby for the use of TASERS in the penal system while they wait to hear the outcome of their efforts for the inclusion of the tools by the police.

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