Mental Health Services Provided to Incarcerated People in the United States

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McNult, Madeline, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Ferguson, Sean, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

Mental illness has recently become a more widely discussed topic. There is a stigma that surrounds the subject, but globally we are slowing breaking it down. Severe mental illness is an increasing problem that affects all aspects of an individual’s life and those around them. Severe mental illness includes schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder, major depression, and brief psychotic disorder. In the United States, there has been an uptick in the number of inmates with severe mental illness who find themselves in and out of jail because the unique challenges they face, such as living independently, holding a steady job, being a functional member of society, etc. However, there are ways to mitigate this problem. There are community-based programs nationwide to provide services including a variety of mental health treatments, support groups, and job and housing assistance to individuals with mental illness and/or those who have been incarcerated.
The technical component of this project was analyzing and quantifying the benefits of the community-provided services through Region 10 in Charlottesville, Virginia for inmates with severe mental illness post release of custody. Region 10 is a Community Service Board that provides mental health, intellectual health, and substance abuse services to those in the Charlottesville and the surrounding counties. The project investigated Return to Custody rates, a Length of Stay analysis, and proximity of inmates to Region 10 offices. Additionally, the research component of this project highlighted the exemplar actions that Germany follows for the treatment of their inmates with sever mental illness. The research focused on the problems faced in the United States, what has been working for Germany, and how the United States could implement Germany’s practices of diversion plans and day fines.
This project is important and affects not only the individuals struggling with mental illnesses, but also the community as a whole. The research and work are far from done. This project is only the beginning of the work that will need to be done in order to create a more just, safe, and effective correctional system.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Community Health Services , Criminal Justice, Mental Health, Severe Mental Illness, Inmates with Mental Illness
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