Throughout the country, jails have traditionally been condemned as some of the worst places for adequate health care, and mental health has played an especially important role in arguments encouraging lawmakers to take action and require greater services. Poor counseling, psychotherapy, and other mental health services have consistently been blamed for relapse of criminal behavior after release, as well as appalling or, in some cases, inhumane treatment within jails themselves. By no means immune to these trends, the state of California has battled a rising inmate population for years, and has failed to convince regulators that its sparse health services are on par with basic expectations. As a result, the state has recently been ordered to cut its inmate population by forty thousand over the next two years.
The move, which was originally fought by the state administration but which has since been addressed with formal plans for attaining the reduction, is aimed at allowing for greater attention to be paid to medical and mental health care, and to ensure that those inmates in need of treatment receive adequate services. The state has said that it plans to restrict the incarceration of minors, alter probation and state laws to lower incarceration rates, and consider other measures to safely keep the population within acceptable limits.
Amidst the planning, however, the panel issuing the order has placed a hold on its decision pending the outcome of a Supreme Court case assessing whether the judges have the authority to order an action that may necessitate the early release of offenders. As the case develops, advocates for greater therapy and other treatments in jail are sure to keep a close eye on the state’s reactions.
© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.