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Thread: Prison and Mental Health Reform?

  1. #1

    Default Prison and Mental Health Reform?

    Well the past few days in my sociology class we have been learning about the stanford prision experiment. While we were watching this I remembered that there was a 30 days show on FX a while ago where Morgan spends 30 days in prison. I dug it up on netflix and I had a couple of thoughts.
    Generally I consider myself very much a crime=time type of person. Not knowing what the prison system is like I guess that I at best would have a lop sided view. When I was watching the show the way things were run just don't seem right. In the general population where Morgan spent most of his time there was a man who is a "paranoid schizophrenic" who's only treatment was medications. Much of the time he didn't even take them, trading them for candy among other things. I remember when I was in the hospital they would make sure you took them right at the window. Another inmate was going through heroin withdrawls in his cell. Can't people die from an uncontrolled withdrawl?
    I've heard the idea that the penal system is really nothing more than a revolving door, and formed the idea that its just because the people in it are just not willing to change... scum to put it harshly and that's not to say that some aren't. People like rapists and murderers obviously are. But that still makes me wonder can the ones who aren't scum be helped?
    Same thing goes with what I've experienced with the mental heath system. There are people I know that have been in and out of the hospital upwards of 30 times, and are only 19. That makes my 3 look like nothing. The people are sometimes placed in Residental Treatment Programs for months at a time when they cant stay at the hospital any more and from what I was told by my one friend aren't allowed to go to regular school or go home with their families. For me this hits home a lot more because of the "been there done that" factor but I cant help but wonder can you change the system to better help the ones "on the inside" and if you can, how do you even do it? Is it anything more than a pipe dream.

    Love to hear what you guys have to say!

  2. #2
    Butterfly Mage


    At Pretrial Services (a division underneath the Department of Corrections) we have a special unit that deals exclusively with mentally ill defendants. The unit is dedicated to getting defendants psychiatric help and getting the defendants into programs that are an alternative to being sentenced.

  3. #3


    Hmm I didn't know that... perhaps maybe my info is a little lopsided. Ill have to look for info on that!

  4. #4


    I've watched shows like Hard Time and Lockdown that go inside prisons and show you what it's like and it's some interesting stuff.

    Something does need to be done with our prison system because alot of people if they get arrested when they are teens they will be in and out of prision for most of their lives.

  5. #5


    Good thread, Maccracker18.

    In your first post you mentioned people not being willing to change their ways.

    So...what's in a 'will'? I've worked with folks that might end up in these situations. I know their backgrounds. What a person 'wants' at any given time doesn't necessarily match what a person should want. They never chose to be victims of circumstance, just as I never chose to have a supportive family and healthy childhood. I'm thankful that I want to go to work in the morning, that I want to eat healthy food, exercise, and help people.

    My questions for you are: can people choose what they want? If so, can they choose why they choose what they want? If you want something you know you shouldn't have, can you make life easier by choosing not to want it?

    See how recursive this is?

    It sounds like we agree that the 'corrections' system as is doesn't do much correcting. In many cases we probably don't have the capability--yet--to provide much help for folks with the problems that land them in jail. That's gotta change.

    I bet there is a lot of us here on ADISC that would like to un-want some things.

  6. #6


    I work at the pre-level of incarceration, junior high school. I know that's sort of a joke, but since we are an inner city school, we see a lot of kids who we feel will probably end up in the system. So many of these kids or emotionally unstable. They have been terribly abused in the home situation, and they really don't have a very good chance in life. We try the hardest with these kids. Every teacher puts up a sign in their classroom that says, "I won't give up on you" and they really try to live up to the statement. But you can really see, by their behavior, the influence their home has on them.

    Because I see the children who will be in jail, I strongly believe there needs to be reform. I can't tell you how many of these kids need love, and will seek attention. I feel like the Catcher in the Rye. I wish I could save each one of them before they fall off the cliff. Several weeks ago, one of our 6th graders went home after being suspended for fighting on the bus. He hung himself. We were gathered before school started in the library. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.

    We have to find some way to mentor these kids before it's too late. Our country is falling apart because we, as a nation, are focusing on the wrong things. Acquiring more stuff won't make us happy. There has to be something more worthwhile going on in our lives. That's why I say to some on this site who feel guilty about wearing diapers, as if God will be mad at them. Help others and do good. God, or what ever forces govern the universe will love you.

  7. #7


    I see a need for reform across the whole spectrum.

    I don't know much about the depth of the issue, but I had a friend go to prison. First off my friend was an agoraphobic (afraid of crowded areas), and had numerous medical conditions that should have had in him a prison hospital more than anything. Due to his medical conditions, he was in and out of the infirmary numerous times. He saw at least four prisoners die when they could have been saved, malpractice suits in the regular world.

    So that's a reform I support.

  8. #8


    The vast majority of people in jail are there for economic crimes.
    People who are unable to get ahead financially in the capitalist system due to lack of education, physical strength, or just the product of bad experiences.

    The average education level of prisoners is around grade 5 or 6 and many have serious mental issues preventing them from pursuing long meaningfull careers that would be considered well paid.

    The lock em up mentality has been around for so long, with poor results, that you would think we would have learned by now that just putting people in jail does not prevent crime.

    Making jail tougher doesn't work as well. In the past the justice system sent prisoners off to remote locations where most never made it back home. Did that harsh approach put an end to crime? NOT

    If society really wanted to end crime, there would be demands to help all citizens lead productive fullfilling lives.
    In the winner take most system of capitilism we live in, there will be collateral damage, with people loosing the ability to support their families, a recipie for some people to take extreme measures to avoid being run over by the rush to riches.

    Society would save a whole lot of money and damage if the justice system made some derminations about why the crime occured and tailored the sentence to take the most preventive approach.
    If someone was caught stealing to make money and had low education, the sentence should be to college, not jail, the court could force the person to get the skills needed to support themselves legally.

    Jail is expensive and counterproductive and should only be reserved for the most dangerous offenders that pose serious threats to society that cannot be mitigated in a way that prevents danger.

  9. #9
    Butterfly Mage


    In Baltimore, a lot of young criminals are put in contact with the legal system because gang recruiters basically don't take "no" for an answer anymore. The education system in Baltimore is in shambles. Kids drop out of school because the institutions are so crime-ridden and dangerous that they are afraid to attend.

  10. #10


    There will always be crime and those mentally unstable enough to commit extremely violent acts. I will agree that our prison system is far from perfect as well nothing in life is perfect. Only those who present a clear danger to society should remain behind bars (rapists, serial murderers, child kidnappers/molesters). Its either that or they can save the taxpayers a bunch of money by executing them immediately. I understand that the person is someone else's son, daughter, wife, husband, uncle, aunt, grandma, grandpa... whatever but at some point they are going to die so why keep them alive if they are of no use to society?

    Less violent crimes like shoplifting and burglary may carry the sentence of community service or some type of forced unpaid labor. Nothing we do will prevent crime from happening altogether and some people are not capable of being reformed. The punishment IMO must fit the crime committed.... no exceptions.

    As for the at risk kids out there... parents need to stop what they are doing because obviously its not working and either give up their parental rights or seek parental counseling. I know there are tons of programs out there who will teach kids how to be productive members of society. Unfortunately the gang life seems more appealing to them so I think every at risk kid should be taken to a prison to gain a real insight as to what prison life is really like and what will happen to them if they continue the road they are on.

    There is nothing like a real life experience to change one's outlook and perception.

    Again this is my opinion so agree or disagree with it.

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