Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Student reacts to mental illness being treated in corrections facilities

I'm sharing this student reaction paper without any comments from me. 

After reading our chapters on mental illness and crime and punishment, I was extremely disturbed to find out how many individuals with mental illness are in the prison system. It seems to me that a much better idea would be to find the individuals with mental illnesses before they commit a crime and get them treatment.

A girl I work with has a son, B____, who recently went to prison. He stole a blank check from his brother and forged his name to get money. His brother pressed charges and he was sentenced to two years. If all goes well he’ll be out in May for good time. B____ had been in and out of trouble as a teenager. He stole bikes and hung out with gangs. However, he managed to stay out of juvenile detention. In the past two years, he’s had a lot of health problems. He’s been having seizures and nosebleeds. He was usually treated at the hospital emergency room with no follow up. The emergency room doctor recommended that he see a neurologist. The neurologist couldn’t find anything wrong with him. It makes me wonder if the treatment that he received was marginal because he was on a medical card.

While in prison, B____ has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. His mom was shocked. He’s been taking medication for the illness. However, I wonder that when he gets out if he’ll continue his treatment. After three years of release 62.3% of offenders will be back in jail. In the case of individuals who have mental illness I’m sure that’s because they discontinue treatment.

Early intervention and early use of new medications lead to better medical outcomes for the individual. The earlier someone with schizophrenia is diagnosed and stabilized on treatment, the better the long-term prognosis for their illness. B____ is only 19 years old. Since schizophrenia is a disease that typically begins to show signs in early adulthood, B____ has a good chance to control his disease. It’s just sad that he had to go to jail to get a prognosis.

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