Archive for Sunday, July 12, 2009

Prisons stretched on mental health treatment resources

July 12, 2009


— Some hurt themselves through biting and head-banging, some try to hurt others, and some do both.

They are among the most severely mentally ill prisoners in the Kansas Department of Corrections, according to a recent study that found that 44 percent of the state prison population suffers some mental disorder.

The analysis of mental health treatment within state prisons says the system is short on the beds and staff needed to take care of inmates with mental illness.

“Although the KDOC has established a comprehensive mental health treatment model carried out by the medical contractor, some inmates fall outside of the realm of this treatment model,” according to the analysis done by Kansas University Physicians Inc.

The report showed that more than 3,800 inmates have some mental health problem, not including substance abuse. Of those, more than 1,000 require some form of intensive monitoring and services.

The Corrections Department tries to send inmates it thinks would be better served in a hospital setting to the Larned State Security Hospital. But personnel there say they are not equipped to handle violent patients because of facility and staff limitations, the report said.

The report recommends two additional housing units, male and female, to take care of those needing acute care.

The report, however, makes no estimate on the cost of building and staffing the additions.

“It will be expensive, whatever it is,” said Corrections Secretary Roger Werholtz.

The Corrections agency has just absorbed budget cuts of approximately $23.5 million because of the state’s shrinking revenues.

Some of these inmates require round-the-clock monitoring, in addition to medical treatment, Werholtz said.

“We are trying to figure out what the right system is. At this point we are just beginning to try to design some solutions,” he said.

During a hearing on the issue before the House-Senate Oversight Committee on Corrections and Juvenile Justice, lawmakers sounded sympathetic, but with the state’s budget crisis, they indicated there was little they could do now.

The report provides case studies of 12 inmates with significant needs, most of whom are a danger to themselves and others.

Some have required medical treatment for injuries that they do to themselves. Larned State Security Hospital refused to take several because of the inmates’ aggressiveness. And one man is only allowed out of his cell in a geri-chair.


Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

I had no idea that there were people like that in real life. It sounds surreal to me. The problem seems insurmountable. I am guessing that not very many people are willing to work with such inmates. Has the medical community made no advances concerning severe mental health? Is there no research being done as to what causes it and how to cure it?

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

I do have sympathy for those with severe mental illness as I am sure they would not choose to be that way anymore than someone would choose to have cancer. Someone an answer will be found and the way these people are treated now will be considered barbaric.

Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 9 months ago

Seamus I do agree with you. Sort of. The people who work with the dangerous mental inmates need to be protected. I am saying right now we don't know how to treat these sick people so they become stable. Perhaps barbaric was too strong a word. There just doesn't seem to be an answer right now. I also know that those who have no sense of morality or empathy with others are physically stronger and more dangerous because they don't hold back. They don't care if they hurt someone. There must be something wrong with their brains to cause them to act like that.

kidscount 8 years, 9 months ago

I raise a child with a mental illness and as an adult he would not be able to handle being in a prision setting. most mentally ill patients dont even understand why something is wronf let alone what to do about it. These patients shout be given the therepy they need in order to function in society. Yes, he has very severe behavioral problems and at a certain point is not able to control them. that does not make him a bad person, his chemical make up is just off and he needs to be taught in a different manner not the prision system. its not going to do him any good if he doesnt understand why he is there

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