Greater than two million individuals are incarcerated in america—a 500% enhance from simply 40 years in the past. As prisons throughout the nation grow to be overcrowded and incarcerated people undergo from psychological well being situations, understanding the influence of jail environments is more and more essential. Assistant Professor of Sociology and Criminology Timothy Edgemon’s newest work, “Inmate Mental Health and the Pains of Imprisonment,” examines the person results of jail situations and suggests methods to enhance psychological well being outcomes.
What do we all know concerning the relationship between jail and psychological well being?
Previous analysis thought of how jail itself may cause psychological well being issues, however I attempted to disentangle the assorted facets of the jail. I checked out how numerous situations of confinement impacted psychological well being in another way, they usually impacted completely different aspects of psychological well being in another way.
As prisons grow to be an increasing number of overcrowded, this results in a better common price of melancholy and hostility for folks incarcerated in these prisons. People who find themselves in prisons with much less overcrowding have much less melancholy and fewer hostility, and in order overcrowding will increase, so do the psychological well being results.
A better proportion of labor assignments within the jail is related to reductions in detrimental psychological well being. As folks within jail have the power or the choice to have interaction in work actions, that appears to enhance their psychological well being on common.
Increased security-level prisons are related to elevated melancholy. One other attention-grabbing discovering on this research is that lack of entry to tv will increase hostility.
Why do jail situations should be studied from a sociological perspective?
Folks go to jail as punishment, not for punishment. Nobody desires to have their liberty disadvantaged. That’s the punishment.
Once we discuss jail situations and situations of confinement, it’s issues like overcrowding, publicity to violence or being victimized whereas in jail. All of that’s extra to the punishment that you simply’ve been given. It merely isn’t the unique aim of jail.
The second purpose why I believe we must be involved about it’s because, insofar as these situations of confinement influence folks they usually influence their psychological well being they usually trigger detrimental results in folks, most individuals that serve a jail sentence will likely be launched again into society.
Previous analysis has proven us that individuals who go to jail that develop psychological well being issues due to jail or in relation to it have worse outcomes after they’re launched. They’re not capable of finding housing, they’re not capable of finding employment and they’re extra seemingly to return into jail. We must be involved about that from a person humanitarian perspective, however we also needs to be involved about that from a societal perspective. How does this negatively influence our society and our communities?
What would you counsel prisons do to enhance inmates’ psychological well being?
What this analysis suggests and what previous analysis suggests is that one, we must always very critically take into account how situations of confinement influence folks. I believe that tends to get misplaced, so we must always actually take into account how environmental situations of the jail translate to actual impacts within the people incarcerated there.
Particularly, how would possibly we enhance these environmental situations? There are quite a few methods. The costlier methods, clearly, are you may add extra jail beds to cut back overcrowding, you may add extra wings onto a jail or you may construct new prisons to cut back overcrowding. I don’t essentially suppose that’s the easiest way to do it. You possibly can construct extra prisons or add extra beds, however you may additionally de-incarcerate, so you may divert extra folks away from prisons. Reimagining different methods to punish is essential for lowering overcrowding, and finally, lowering environmental issues of the jail, however that’s a big-picture readjustment.
One factor that I observe within the research is that merely including extra leisure alternatives in a jail and never utilizing them as a way of management could be helpful. And even issues like readjusting work priorities, providing extra work assignments or growing the numbers of applications which can be out there to folks would assist. However once more, that does get again to the difficulty of funding and again to the difficulty of overcrowding. As a result of in case your jail could be very overcrowded, you’re restricted in how a lot you possibly can supply these applications.
Hearken to the complete dialog with Edgemon on the Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know podcast.
About Timothy Edgemon:
Timothy Edgemon is an assistant professor of sociology and criminology within the Department of Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work within the Faculty of Liberal Arts. His analysis examines hyperlinks between legal justice and well being outcomes on the particular person and societal ranges. His present analysis focuses on the connection between jail situations, post-release psychological well being outcomes and recidivism charges.