Describe how corrections officers responding to an incident in the cell block might identify a potentially mentally ill inmate from one that is just acting out.
Identify a potentially mentally ill inmate
You are a member of the training division in a maximum-security prison facility. There are about 8,000 inmates, and another 350 staff members, of which 220 are corrections officers. Because of the recent economic downturn, the number of prisoners incarcerated for property crimes, such as grand thefts and burglaries, has been on the rise. About 3,000 of the 8,000 inmates are violent offenders. Traditionally, the violent offenders establish a structure of control amongst the inmates, and often abuse the property crime offenders who are not used to violence. You have been tasked by the warden and the prison counsel, the mayor, and the city council to provide a method for dealing with an anticipated rise in violence as the demographic of the prison population puts more less experienced inmates in the facility. You must identify types of personnel who you would involve in the evaluation. There will be a number of inmates whose mental health will make them prone to violence, and some who will be more likely to be victimized by that violence. An example that may be considered is not to put a minority in a cell block with large numbers of members of white supremacy gangs. Other issues might include identifying persons who have demonstrated leadership through force, and segregating them to prevent them from affecting the population’s mood.
In a 3–5 page position paper, respond to the following questions based on the scenario:
- Describe how corrections officers responding to an incident in the cell block might identify a potentially mentally ill inmate from one that is just acting out.
- Explore the mental illness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Given the confines of the cell block, how you would best approach an inmate who is suffering from one of these three conditions?
- Explain what you believe should be included in training corrections officers and staff to safely handle mentally ill inmates in a restricted environment (keep in mind: safety first, followed by reasonable empathy).