Monday, 19 September 2011
Victimization of Prison Inmates with Mental Illness Solitary confinement creates a dangerous cycle in some prison inmates.
Some inmates use aggressive or disruptive behavior to cope with the traumatic stress of being in prison. These inmates are repeatedly sent to segregation units as punishment.
Each time, they emerge with increasingly more severe aggressive and violent behaviors, including criminal victimization of vulnerable inmates.
They come out looking for a target for their intense rage, and often that target is a mentally ill inmate who is too disoriented, depressed, or distracted by hallucinations to be able to defend himself.
Mentally ill inmates start out with limited resources to defend themselves against physical and sexual violence. If the targeted inmate is taking antipsychotic medication, his capacity to keep himself safe may be compromised even further by delayed reactions to stimuli. This is a common side effect of antipsychotic drugs.
Inmates with bipolar mania or paranoid schizophrenia are the most likely to be sent to solitary confinement as punishment for defiant or bizarre behavior.
Others, particularly inmates with post-traumatic stress disorder, choose to stay in their cells all day in order to avoid being attacked out on the exercise yard.
And for inmates with major depressive disorder or catatonic schizophrenia, isolation and withdrawal is a characteristic symptom of their illness.