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Mental Health Struggles in Prisons

Many times the psychological effects of prison are overlooked by those who believe that punishment is sufficient to curve the criminal mind. And while I feel like I may have written about these things before, I do not believe there could ever be enough attention placed upon the mental health of those many of whom will one day be returning to society. I am surrounded by many individuals who I believe suffer from undiagnosed mental illnesses. No I am not a Qualified Mental Health Practioner (QMHP) but I have read enough, and been around so many personalities over the past 20 years that I believe that I can recognize a sick mind. The truth is, a sick mind doesn't know that its sick until it is diagnosed, once that happens either that mind can seek help, or it can proceed to deteriorate. I am a witness to the fact that there are many who are on the verge of being released who are taking illnesses with them, some of which developed while in prison, and some that they've had all along but just didn't know it. When we look at the Khalil Browder case in New York it is the perfect example of one who goes undiagnosed and doesn't realize how prison has affected him until he is actually released. Khalil never got the help he needed and unfortunately it resulted in his tragic death. Prison is not a normal environment, so why do we expect it to punish and then produce normal people. If mental health is not truly addressed in prisons then I fear that the worst is yet to come, for when a sick mind is released into society it has a tendency to infect the community around it, and I still believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. - Hassan Shabazz, VAPOC

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