Oakland Researcher Reflection Project Section 9. Researcher Reflection The researcher reflection is 1-2 pages that offers your take-away lessons from this

Oakland Researcher Reflection Project Section 9. Researcher Reflection The researcher reflection is 1-2 pages that offers your take-away lessons from this project. What have
you learned? How will you apply this knowledge in your career post-graduation? What surprised you? Did your understanding of this policy or issue change during the course of this project? If so, how?
What is the most important thing you think others (policymakers, the media, or the general public)
should know about this policy, and why? Christine Wills
Capstone
POLICY ANALYSIS OF POSITION STATEMENT 56: MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT
IN CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES
ABSTRACT
Out of five people in America, one is suffering from mental illness. Mental illness has
various side effects such as poor performance in many sectors and this affects the growth of the
affected sectors. Proper policies should be incorporated in order to sustain victims and curb this
challenge thus improve the welfare of victims. To begin investigating this problem the question
that must be researched is ‘How are mental health problems identified and treated in a
correctional facility?’ Further investigation using Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory and General
Strain Theory are used to show the enhanced effectiveness of this policy and the importance of
healthcare and treatment for inmates with mental health and substance abuse issues. Research
has shown that giving proper care to inmates is cost-effective, increase quality of life for inmates
and moral and everyday work life for officers and those who work in correctional facilities, and
reduces recidivism.
INTRODUCTION
Mental illness is very prevalent in the United States corrections system. In fact so
prevalent, that the number of inmates with serious mental illness in prison outnumbers the
mentally ill patients in hospitals tenfold. According to the National Institutes of Health, it has
been reported that mental illnesses in the United States are common. Statistics show that in the
US millions are affected each year. Unfortunately, data suggests only 50% of those diagnosed
with a mental illness actually receive some form of treatment. Research has shown that people
with mental illness in crisis are more likely to be arrested than to receive medical help leading to
nearly 2 million mentally ill individuals being arrested each year. It is estimated that 15% of
males and 30% of females arrested have a major mental illness (Carroll “Serious Mental Illness
Prevalence in Jails and Prisons” 2016).
The cost of mental health care in prisons is exponentially high, and not all inmates
receive the treatment they need. According to the Bureau of Prisons, more than 70 million was
spent on clinical psychology services in 2016 and more than 5 million on pharmacological
treatments. Additionally, another 4 million went toward mental health services in reentry centers.
Even with the increasing tax dollars spent on treating mentally ill inmates, the rate of recidivism
remains high. In an effort to curve this, the Department of Justice, as well as the Department of
Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration have
been working with experts in mental health and criminal justice on a framework for correctional
agencies to reduce the rate of recidivism among the highest risk mentally ill inmates. The cost of
caring for mentally ill inmates is high, yet not all of them are receiving the treatment they need
(Gonzalez & Connell “Mental health of prisoners: identifying barriers to mental health treatment
and medication continuity. American journal of public health”, 2014).
Evidence suggests that Position Statement 56 shows that the correctional system is
ineffective at providing adequate mental health care to inmates because of inadequate funding,
understaffed with health care workers, and undereducated corrections officers on how to deal
with inmates with mental health issues, and as a result, it is recommended that inmates with
mental illnesses are given specific rights such as the right to adequate medical and mental health
care, informed consent to treatment, to refuse treatment, including psychotropic medications, on
the same basis as any other person, and more. This paper will discuss the difficulties with access
to mental health care and inmate right, how treatments are administered in correctional facilities,
and the costs of mental health treatment in correctional facilities.
POLICY SUMMARY
Policy Origins
In the past decade, mental illness in correctional facilities has become an important topic
with difficulties and problems that need to be addressed. In Plata v. Brown, filed in 2001, the
State conceded that deficiencies in prison medical care violated prisoners’ Eighth Amendment
rights and stipulated to a remedial injunction. But when the State had not complied with the
injunction by 2005, the court appointed a Receiver to oversee remedial efforts. Three years later,
the Receiver described continuing deficiencies caused by overcrowding. The judges in both
actions granted the request, and the cases were consolidated before a single three-judge court.
After hearing testimony and making extensive findings of fact, the court ordered California to
reduce its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity within two years (“BROWN v.
PLATA”, 2011). Due to this case, mental health and treatment in correctional facilities have
become an increasingly important issue. As a result, in 2011, the policy of Proposition Statement
56: Mental Health Treatment in Correctional Facilities was created. This policy states when
prisoners in need of mental health treatment must be confined in correctional facilities, they are
entitled to specific rights while incarcerated.
Policy Description
This policy goes over the rights to healthcare and treatment for inmates in correctional
facilities. People with mental health and substance use conditions need a system to protect
themselves and preserve their human rights if and when they are incarcerated. When prisoners in
need of mental health treatment must be confined in correctional facilities, they are entitled to the
following: The right to adequate medical and mental health care, to protection from harm
including staff abuse, and to a facility in which the vulnerable can be protected: a safe, sanitary
and humane environment (“Position Statement 56: Mental Health Treatment in Correctional
Facilities”, 2015). This Policy and those involved work to inform the community about the
number of inmates with mental illnesses and addictive disorders that are incarcerated and the
difficulties involved in providing care to these people and develop and advocate for different
strategies addressing these problems.
Policy Goals
The goals of this policy and others like it are to inform members of law enforcement,
judges and attorneys, mental health professionals, prisoners and their families, the community
and the media about the excessive number of persons with mental illnesses and addictive
disorders in prisons and jails. Proposition 56 also works to inform those about the inherent
difficulties involved in providing decent and humane care to such persons in these settings and
should develop and advocate for effective strategies addressing these problems. Using different
resources to work with prison reform groups to highlight the treatment and conditions of inmates
with mental health conditions and to ensure that everyone with mental health conditions receives
decent and humane mental health services while incarcerated (“Position Statement 56: Mental
Health Treatment in Correctional Facilities”, 2015). Success for this policy can be measured in a
number of ways. One way is in the enhanced wellbeing of both prisoners with mental disorders
and of the prison population, making correctional facilities a working environment that advances
the general confidence and psychological well-being of jail staff. Another is the decrease of
possible reoffending and returning to incarceration by helping occupy individuals with mental
illnesses from jail to treatment and recovery. Lastly, it can be seen in fewer expenses for
correctional facilities. Those involved should work with prison reform groups to highlight the
treatment and conditions of a person with mental health conditions in prisons and jails and to
ensure that everyone with a mental health condition receives decent and humane mental health
services while incarcerated (“Position Statement 56: Mental Health Treatment in Correctional
Facilities”, 2015).
RESEARCH JUSTIFICATION
Research Justification
Many Americans today suffer from mental illness. Approximately 1 in 5 adults are
included in this and it still is not treated properly outside of correctional facilities, let alone
within the facilities as there are many challenges. Many offenders suffer from some form of
mental illness, that if not treated most can be expected to commit some type of crime again and
return back to jail or prison. While incarcerated mentally ill inmates can create behavioral
management problems that result in their isolation this can result in mentally ill inmates
remaining in incarceration longer than other inmates. Doing research and going more in-depth on
this topic could possibly bring about new ways to treat these illnesses and prevent those who
suffer from them from offending and/or re-offending.
The topic of research for this paper problem is mental illness in correctional facilities, to
be more specific Position Statement 56: Mental Health Treatment in Correctional Facilities. The
reader should care about this because it is an ongoing issue that affects all correctional facilities
in the United States because many people suffer from some kind of mental illness. Also, the cost
of treating mentally ill inmates is high. In 2003 a report on Texas correctional facilities reported
the average prisoner costs approximately $22,000.00 per year per inmate and for those with
mental health problems the cost can range from $30,000- $50,000.00 per year per inmate. With
proper care, correctional facilities costs will go down resulting in lower tax costs for the
surrounding communities. The literature has stated that the largest provider of mental health
services in the US is the correctional system, and yet there are still many limitations to access to
mental health care for inmates, regardless of court mandates. The question to begin investigating
the problem is ‘How are mental health problems identified and treated in a correctional facility?’
POLICY ANALYSIS
According to the World Health Organization (2001), hundreds of millions of people all
over the world are suffering from mental illnesses like depression and epilepsy. This translates to
over a million deaths a year from suicide which happens as a result of mental health problems
and the number of deaths is even more in prisons.
Proposition 56 will help to reduce the number of deaths as more people will get the care
they need and be able to see sense in life and opt to do whatever it takes to survive. Also,
subjects to mental health problems will be taught how to cope with the situation (Birmingham,
2004). Restoring a person’s mental health condition is likely restoring the whole person, and thus
Proposition Statement 56 provides inmates with the opportunity to live a restored life and
develop wholly and centrally.
According to the investigation conducted by the World Health Organization (2001) on
the physical environment of an inmate in prison, it was concluded that prisons are generally
dangerous for an individual’s mental health. The adverse health environments such as
overcrowding, violence, and lack of privacy among others are the major contributors of the
same. Despite this situation, prisons still have to exist for it is one of the most effective ways of
correcting criminal activity. Inmates will be able to benefit from this policy as the cages in which
they are put contribute to the deterioration of one’s mental health.
Mental Health in Corrections over the Years
In the past decade, mental illness in correctional facilities has become an essential topic
with difficulties and problems that need to be addressed. In Plata v. Brown, filed in 2001, the
state conceded that deficiencies in prison medical care violated prisoners’ Eighth Amendment
rights and stipulated to a remedial injunction. But when the State had not complied with the
order by 2005, the court appointed a Receiver to oversee remedial efforts. Three years later, the
Receiver described continuing deficiencies caused by overcrowding. The judges in both actions
granted the request, and the cases were consolidated before a single three-judge court. After
hearing testimony and making extensive findings of fact, the court ordered California to reduce
its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity within two years (“BROWN v. PLATA”,
2011). Due to this case, mental health and treatment in correctional facilities have become an
increasingly important issue.
Over the years, the lives of prisoners that have taken their treatment seriously have gotten
better. When Proposition Statement 56 is officially enacted, more prisoners will benefit from the
changes that they will be experiencing. For example, the quality of life and the health of these
individuals will improve. Also, cases of depression and stigma will reduce as the prisoners will
get a better understanding of their condition. In the long run, the prisoners will most certainly be
able to adjust and fit in society and thus reduce the chances of being arrested.
Theoretical Framework
In order to critically analyze the Proposition Statement 56, two criminological theories
namely Social Bond Theory and Strain Theory will be employed to try and justify or debunk the
policy. Hirschi’s (1969) Social Bond Theory holds that what keeps people from being social
deviants or committing crimes is socializing and being able to form meaningful personal
relationships. The theory further indicates that social bonding has four elements namely family
attachment, being committed to institutions such as school and employment and social norms,
taking part in activities and ascribing value to all these things. The absence of these factors is
what leads people to engage in deviant behaviors. Scholars Nijdam, Livingston, Verdun, and
Brink (2015) examined how these concepts of social bonding theory contribute to recovery
among mental health patients. Their findings revealed that patients who showed great signs of
recovery identified these factors as being meaningful and important in their road to recovery.
Therefore, having a policy like Proposition Statement 56, that advocates for healthcare and
treatment for inmates with mental health issues are essential in ensuring their recovery.
However, as this policy seeks to come up with a safe and sanitary environment that aid in the
recovery of inmates, concepts of Hirschi’s Social Bond Theory should be adopted to enhance the
effectiveness of the policy.
The General Strain Theory (Agnew, 1992), asserts that often people experiencing or who
have experienced stressful situations suffer from a lot of distress and in order to cope opt to
commit a crime such as engaging in substance abuse. A major principle of the theory is that
crime can be motivated by emotion, widening the view on the causes of crime. Therefore while
seeking to provide intervention for people with addictive disorders and mental illnesses in
prisons the parties involved must have a comprehension of this concept in order to provide
mental health services that are decent and humane and comprehensively address all the causative
agents. While studying if the General Strain Theory can shed light on the violent behaviors of
mental health patients found that individuals who had parents with a drug abuse problem from a
young age and gone through stressful times were more likely to engage in violence (Link,
Cullen, Agnew, & Link, 2016). Therefore with this information, these correctional
institutions can come up with effective strategies that can adequately address the challenges
being faced and give these parties a chance to reform. In line with Proposition Statement 56, this
theory shows the importance of healthcare and treatment for inmates with mental health and drug
substance use such as therapy which gets to the root of the problem and addresses it.
Cost-effectiveness of the policy
According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the
United States has only five percent of the world’s population but holds twenty-five percent of the
world’s prison population. Financially, this is very straining for the US government. In 2015
alone, the nation spent $81 billion in prisons alone. The National Institute of justice, on the other
hand, reports that over 75 percent of the inmates are incarcerated within five years. People make
offenses because most of the prisons are focusing on punishment instead of rehabilitation
(Steadman et al., 2007)
Most of the people that get re-incarcerated are those with a mental problem. It is
estimated that around 20 percent of the inmates that are in jails have a mental problem, while 15
percent of those in state prisons have complicated and serious mental problems. Therefore,
comparing to the number of inmates in prisons, there are roughly 356,000 inmates that have
mental issues. It is astonishing considering that mental hospitals in the nation only have 35,000
people with mental problems (Turner, 2007). The nation’s prisons now have over ten times the
number of individuals in mental hospitals. Prisons have essentially replaced mental hospitals.
The average stay for people that are mentally ill in jails is averagely high compared to
those that are not mentally ill. In Florida’s Orange County, for example, normal inmates spend
26 days whereas those that are mentally ill spend 51 days on average. In other prisons like in
New York’s Island jail, normal inmates stay for 42 whereas those with mental challenges spend
over 215 days behind bars. The mentally ill spend more days because they find it hard to
understand and follow the set prison rules. Another reason is that they wait for long to get a bed
in a psychiatric hospital (Torrey et al., 2010).
The longer they stay in the prisons, the more expensive it is for the government daily.
The mentally ill inmates coast extra as compared to normal inmates in the same prisons. In the
Broward County, in Florida for example, to facilitate the stay of a normal inmate, it coasts the
prison $80 per day. For an inmate with a mental problem, it coasts the same prison $130 per day.
In a year, in the Texas prisons, a normal inmate costs $22,000 while one with mental disorder
spends a whopping $30,000 to $50,000. The high cost is due to the high number of staffing and
extra Psychiatric medications. Also, in case these people die in the prisons, there is a likelihood
of having an increased cost of lawsuits. It is therefore economically effective that the Position
Statement 56 policy is rolled out to save on these costs. It will ensure that there are few mentally
ill inmates in the prisons and hence saving the nation a lot of money.
Outcomes for Inmates
Mentally ill inmates are a big problem for the management of prisoners and themselves.
Such an inmate is likely to commit suicide or endanger their lives. A study in Washington shows
that inmates that attempted suicide had a 77 percent prevalence of being mentally ill. Therefore,
addressing the problem of mental illness in inmates will help to improve the quality of life of the
prisoners and the life of other prisoners at large. Further, if the mentally ill inmates are left
untreated, they will likely make the prison environment unconducive and unfriendly for other
prisoners. Also, helping the mentally ill get medication will ensure that the inmates, once they
get out of prison, they can live a productive life and reduce the likelihood that they will commit
another offense and be re-incarcerated (Torrey et al., 2010).
Outcomes for Correctional Officers
It is never an easy task for the correction officers, especially those that work in the
prisons. The prisons are very demanding, and the officers are always busy trying to ensure that
inmates are doing the right thing. Having a mentally challenged prisoner makes the work even
more difficult. Such prisoners increase the w…
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