Prison Psychologists and Biases in Corrections Essay

  • Length: 3 pages
  • Sources: 4
  • Subject: Psychology
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #90528984

Excerpt from Essay :

.....psychologists working in prisons in the United States, Boothby & Clements (2000) found some disturbing trends in corrections. Although the number of prison psychologists has doubled in the past twenty years, the vast majority of prison psychologists remain Caucasian males who may be unable to address the diverse needs of the incarcerated community. Biases and assumptions about inmates may also hinder the ability of inmates to seek and receive psychological treatment. Moreover, a full third of prison psychologist work time is spent on administrative duties -- more than the time spent on direct treatment. Only 26% of their work time is devoted to directly treating the inmates, meaning that structural and institutional variables are impeding the delivery of quality mental health care to the prison community.



Interestingly, the profession of clinical psychology was practically born in the prison context. As Magaletta, et al. (2016) point out, prison wardens partnered with psychologists seeking training opportunities and subjects for experiments since the early 20th century. Prison psychologists have had at their disposal access to subjects for research into the endogenous and exogenous factors that may cause or contribute to criminal behavior. Prisoners have long been viewed as a relatively dispensable part of the human population and the lack of attention given to their treatment remains a major ethnical infraction (Magaletta, et al., 2016). The psychological make-up of offenders, whose behavior may be symptomatic of underlying preexisting conditions ranging from mood disorders like anxiety and depression to personality disorders to psychoses, presents unique problems and challenges for prison administrators and correctional officers alike.



Because criminal behavior can be the means by which mental illness first becomes recognized, it makes sense that a large number of inmates do suffer from some type of diagnosable mental illness. Furthermore, offenders are more likely than non-offenders to be victims of crime, while victims of crime are also more likely than non-victims to be offenders: a pattern that has been noted throughout the literature (Entorf, 2013). Correctional officers lack the training and background in psychology to provide the daily support system for the inmates, which is why psychologists are the most frequently employed mental health professional in the correctional setting (Magaletta, et al., 2016). Yet because of the gaps in providing quality mental health care in prisons, the needs of the diverse inmate population are not being met. Not meeting the needs of this cohort may stymie attempts to lower rates of recidivism and promote genuine rehabilitation and community reintegration. Similarly, a more robust…

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