Challenges in Treating Mentally Ill Offenders Essay Example
Challenges in Treating Mentally Ill Offenders Essay Example

Challenges in Treating Mentally Ill Offenders Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1316 words)
  • Published: October 14, 2021
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In the contemporary society, the population of the offenders continues to rise every day. This leads to myriad challenges which have an effect on the society at large. Mentally ill offenders are still confined in jail. As a result, the correctional officers are assigned the task of offering services to these individuals. Some of the offenders do not receive hospital treatment during the entire time of their imprisonment. It is imperative to define the roles of different professionals as part of the solution to the challenges related to the treatment of mentally ill offenders.

Challenges Related to the Treatment of Mentally Ill Offenders

The merging of the function of correctional officers with that of staffs of mental health gives rise to a conflict of interest. The role of correctional officers is specific and hence being merged


with that of mental health staffs interferes with their roles they ought to perform. The officers are required to enforce discipline as well as being an authority figure. Therefore, it becomes hard for such an officer to become a confidant, be compassionate to the inmates with a mental health problem and offer mental health services. As a result, it may lead to confusion among them and cause boundary problem between the mental health staff and the correctional officer when the latter goes back to that function. Intimates may develop a lack of trust due to correctional officers are compassionate and caring at one time and lacking compassion, being dominant and forceful in other moments (Films Media Group, 2008).

In the U.S., prisons have been providing mental health services to the patients. The practice has become common because of processing people with severe

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mental issues through the system of criminal justice instead of psychiatric hospitals. Many individuals with mental health issues are incarcerated in prison, and this means that the number of mental health staff is not enough to meet the demand of the ever-growing population (Humanities and Sciences, 2008). Hence, this leads to the merging of the roles of mental health staff and that of correctional officers, and this interferes with the quality of the treatment provided to the individuals with mental health disorders.

Regarding the challenge of individuals who have not received mental hospital treatment for the entire period of imprisonment, even if they have completed their full sentences is a concern to the whole society. If an individual has not been involved in a crime that makes them get sentenced for life or get a death penalty, it is imperative for that individual to be perceived as someone who can be rehabilitated as well as being reintegrated into the society (Roberts, 2008).

The law enforcement officers to have the ability to detain people that may be perceived to be dangerous in future is not a good precedent to set, and this may have a significant outcome for a large part of the society. Granting authority to the law enforcement officers or health staffs to predict who may be dangerous in future such as those with Schizophrenia will start detaining those individuals. Such life-altering decisions are likely to be made, and this may jeopardize the life of many people. Health staffs and law enforcement officers would not always make accurate decisions regarding such individuals. Simply because a person has been involved in criminal activity at once does not

translate that he will commit a crime again. Some people commit crimes of passion for the first time, and they end up in jail (National Broadcasting News, 2008). Therefore, predicting whether a person will commit a dangerous crime in future becomes a challenge as they may lead to the detention of many people who may not be involved in crime in future.

Steps to Overcome the Challenges

The law may be applied to overcome the challenges. In overcoming the challenge that involves merging of functions of correctional officers with that of health staff, a law that forbids merging ought to be passed. Previous research has revealed that internment worsens symptoms of mental health illness and the correctional officers do not have enough education and training to deal with such problems (Films Media Group, 2008). Such officers can make some decisions concerning mentally ill offender that may be detrimental to the well-being of the patients. As a result of differences in various methods of treatment and diverse cultures between correctional officers and mental health staffs, conflict of interest is likely to arise concerning the offender’s healthcare (Roberts, 2008). Therefore, correctional officers should not perform the roles of mental health staffs, and mental health staffs should not perform the roles of correctional officers.
To overcome the second challenge, for the offenders who have mental health problems and have completed their sentences without getting treatment in a mental hospital, the legislation would also apply. The law should be passed that requires offenders to be confined in a health facility in the entire time of their sentences where proper medications and mental health care would be provided instead of a traditional prison

setting. Moreover, if the sentenced offenders are confined in health facilities instead of traditional prisons, they ought to be freed once their sentence is fulfilled. Harsher punishments ought to be imposed to the criminal behaviors that are considered dangerous, heinous or violent (Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 2008). However, these punishments need to be implemented to all the offenders who have been proved to commit such type of crime. This has an effect of ensuring that justice is upheld in the criminal justice system.

Treatment Approaches

Concerning issue number one, the role of mental health staff is merged with that of correctional officers, and therefore there is no specific treatment approach that can be used to provide a solution to this issue since the challenge involves the staff instead of mentally ill offenders. In the case study, Julie, Stan, and Juan have been suffering from mental disorders. Therefore, they require a mental health professional to offer treatment rather than using a correctional officer without adequate education and training required for intervention (National Broadcasting News, 2008). Additionally, there is a need to overhaul mental health procedures and policies in all facilities that utilize correctional officers in providing mental health services.

In regard to issue number two, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) could be utilized as a treatment approach to the offenders (Roberts, 2008). They should be confined in correctional facilities that provide health services to such individuals. In the case study, Julie would work with therapy to establish the cause of her behavior of drug abuse. A therapist would also work together with Juan and Stan to identify what caused them to be involved in undesirable behaviors. The offenders

are likely to learn how to abandon old habits and embrace desirable behaviors


Treatment of mentally ill offenders has faced various challenges. Lack of providing hospital treatment and the merge of different roles of the officers dealing with these individuals are among the challenges related to the treatment of mentally ill offenders. There should be a separation of roles between the officers dealing with mentally ill offenders and provision of hospital treatment to overcome these challenges.


  1. Films for the Humanities and Sciences. (2008). The Criminal Mind. Retrieved from
  2. Films Media Group. (2006). Housing of Mentally Ill Prisoners. Retrieved from
  3. Films Media Group (2008). Inside Wabash. Retrieved from
    Roberts, A. R. (2008). Correctional counseling & treatment: Evidence-based perspectives. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Pearson Prentice Hall.
  4. National Broadcasting News. (2008). Psychological Support for Violent Prisoners. Retrieved from
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