Andrea G. Segal, Rosemary Frasso, Dominic A. Sisti
Qualitative Health Research
First published March 21, 2018
Approximately 20% of the roughly 2.5 million individuals incarcerated in the United States have a serious mental illness (SMI). As a result of their illnesses, these individuals are often more likely to commit a crime, end up incarcerated, and languish in correctional settings without appropriate treatment. The objective of the present study was to investigate how correctional facility personnel reconcile the ethical challenges that arise when housing and treating individuals with SMI. Four focus groups and one group interview were conducted with employees (n = 24) including nurses, clinicians, correctional officers, administrators, and sergeants at a county jail in Pennsylvania. Results show that jail employees felt there are too many inmates with SMI in jail who would benefit from more comprehensive treatment elsewhere; however, given limited resources, employees felt they were doing the best they can. These findings can inform mental health management and policy in a correctional setting.
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