Prisoners are people too

By Megan Tataren

Prison is a place that would drive anyone to suffer from a mental health issue. Constantly having to watch your back, be careful of what you say, be conscious of whose path you cross, and fear for your well-being is all part of the daily struggle that many prisoners face. Imagine having to face these struggles along with a mental illness, possibly one that is undiagnosed. A mental illness does not necessarily mean that they are crazy. It can be someone with depression, a substance abuse issue or anxiety disorder.

There is currently a major lack of mental health services that are available to prisoners. It is true that some of the individuals who are incarcerated commited their crimes of sound mind knowing what they did, but as many as a quarter of a million prisoners suffer from a mental illness during their crime.

Services for the incarcerated should include individual and group therapy, medication management, and transitional programs for being released back into society.

Follow-up programs for formerly incarcerated individuals could decrease the amount of returns to prison that many face. Think about the ones who live their lives behind bars. They are still human beings who have a right to seek services for their issues.

Megan Tataren

graduate student