Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Reblog]New study explores the pathways that lead to jail time for women

From the 6 August 2013 article at Medical News Today

How do pathways to jail vary for females who are victims of specific types of trauma? New research published in Psychology of Women Quarterly, a SAGE journal, pinpoints the types of trauma such as caregiver violence, witnessing violence, and intimate partner violence, that lead to specific types of offending later in life and offers explanations based on real experiences.

Researchers Dana DeHart, Shannon Lynch, Joanne Belknap, and Bonnie Green conducted life-history interviews with 115 female inmates from five U.S. states and found the following patterns:

  • Intimate partner violence increased women’s risks for property crimes, drug offending, and commercial sex work. These relationships often related to intimate involvement with violent men who fluctuated between roles as the women’s co-offenders, drug dealers, and pimps.
  • Witnessing violence increased risks for property crimes, fighting, and use of weapons. These relationships often stemmed from affiliation with criminal networks, and often women’s use of weapons or aggression arose from efforts to protect themselves or others.
  • Experiences of caregiver violence increased risk of running away as a teen. Runaway youth often enact this behavior as a means of escaping intolerable maltreatment at home.

 

Read the entire article here 

 

August 6, 2013 Posted by | Psychiatry, Psychology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Prisoners Doing Yoga May See Psychological Benefits

yoga

yoga (Photo credit: GO INTERACTIVE WELLNESS)

 

From the 11 July 2013 article at Science Daily

 

Yoga can improve mood and mental wellbeing among prisoners, an Oxford University study suggests, and may also have an effect on impulsive behaviour.

The researchers found that prisoners after a ten-week yoga course reported improved mood, reduced stress and were better at a task related to behaviour control than those who continued in their normal prison routine.

‘We found that the group that did the yoga course showed an improvement in positive mood, a decrease in stress and greater accuracy in a computer test of impulsivity and attention,’ say Dr Amy Bilderbeck and Dr Miguel Farias, who led the study at the Departments of Experimental Psychology and Psychiatry at Oxford University. ‘The suggestion is that yoga is helpful for these prisoners.’

Dr Bilderbeck adds: ‘This was only a preliminary study, but nothing has been done like this before. Offering yoga sessions in prisons is cheap, much cheaper than other mental health interventions. If yoga has any effect on addressing mental health problems in prisons, it could save significant amounts of public money.’

If yoga is associated with improving behaviour control, as suggested by the results of the computer test, there may be implications for managing aggression, antisocial or problem behaviour in prisons and on return to society, the researchers note — though this is not measured in this initial study.

Dr Bilderbeck, who practices yoga herself, cautions: ‘We’re not saying that organising a weekly yoga session in a prison is going to suddenly turn prisons into calm and serene places, stop all aggression and reduce reoffending rates. We’re not saying that yoga will replace standard treatment of mental health conditions in prison. But what we do see are indications that this relatively cheap, simple option might have multiple benefits for prisoners’ wellbeing and possibly aid in managing the burden of mental health problems in prisons.’

Sam Settle, director of the Prison Phoenix Trust, says: ‘Almost half of adult prisoners return to prison within a year, having created more victims of crime, so finding ways to offset the damaging effects of prison life is essential for us as a society. This research confirms what prisoners have been consistently telling the Prison Phoenix Trust for 25 years: yoga and meditation help them feel better, make better decisions and develop the capacity to think before acting — all essential in leading positive, crime-free lives once back in the community.’

 

 

July 18, 2013 Posted by | Health News Items, Psychology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

California to start regaining control of prison healthcare

Prison health care does seem to be improving in California.
Why I am I reporting this? Because health care (and I’m not talking non-elective procedures here) is a right. A right that does not depend on one’s socioeconomic status. I believe that because prisoners are human beings, it is our collective responsibility to make sure they do get needed health care.  Just as it is our collective responsibility for all.Being found guilty of crimes and committing crimes does not take away their humanity. It may be hard to have compassion for those who showed no compassion at some point in our lives. But as human beings, I believe we are truly capable of seeing good in all.

There are a number of factors here (see related articles). Excessive salaries for some prison health care workers. And prison overcrowding (at least partially attributable to the three strike law). So I think not only prison reform is in order, but who we criminalize and why needs to be rationally addressed.

Prison doors

Prison doors (Photo credit: rytc)

 

From the 25 October 2012 article at the Los Angeles Times

SACRAMENTO — Seven years after federal courts took control of California’s prison healthcare system, citing care so poor that inmates were dying needlessly, they will start the long process Friday of turning operations back over to the state.

J. Clark Kelso, the court-appointed overseer, said he could foresee a full resumption of state control in about two years. He will begin Friday with a test: handing over authority to staff and equip new care facilities, including a $1-billion project in Stockton, and the sensitive job of making sure inmates get to doctors, clinics and hospitals…

California lost its authority after U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson declared in June 2005 that “extreme measures” were needed to fix a care network that killed one inmate each week through incompetence or neglect. Henderson said that despite repeated warnings from his court, sick prisoners continued to die “for no acceptable reason.”

The state had two such deaths last year, a level Kelso said is within reason: “There are limits to how perfect medicine can be.”..

 

 

October 26, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , | Leave a comment

Oklahoma Looks for Ways to Keep Mentally Ill Ex-offenders Out of Prison

English: Oklahoma State Penitentiary

English: Oklahoma State Penitentiary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

From the 23 October 2012 article at Stateline Daily

 

Central to that program is ensuring that participants leave custody already signed up for Social Security Disability and Medicaid, which immediately provides them with some income and health care and – crucial for them – psychiatric medication and counseling.

By comparison, unless they are disabled in some way, typical inmates leaving prison in Oklahoma do not qualify for either Social Security or Medicaid benefits. Usually, they are given a lift to the bus station, a ticket to anywhere they want to go in the state, $50, and sometimes a handshake.

Lowering Recidivism

If the measure of success is keeping mentally ill ex-offenders out of prison, the Oklahoma Collaborative Mental Health Re-Entry Program has been a success. The recidivism rate over a three-year span for those participating in the program is 25.2 percent, compared to the 42.3 percent rate for a comparable prison population before the program started in 2007. On the basis of those results, the program earned an innovation award this year from the Council of State Governments.

Law enforcement is positive about the program as well. “Anything that keeps them on their medication and in treatment is a positive step,” says Phil Cotten, acting director of the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police.

Not the least of those extolling the program are its beneficiaries, some of whom have no doubt about the boomerang route their post-prison life would have followed without the re-entry experiment…

..

Criminalizing Mental Illness

Like every other state, Oklahoma has seen a correlation between the emptying of its psychiatric hospitals in the sixties and seventies and its ever-increasing prison population. According to Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections, half of its prisoners have a history of or currently exhibit some form of mental illness (resulting in a threefold increase in the number of prisoners receiving psychotropic drugs between 1998 and 2006). Some call it the criminalization of mental illness. In a different time, many of the symptomatic mentally ill ended up in psychiatric wards; today they go to prison, a situation that Robert Powitsky, the chief mental officer of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, calls a “travesty.”

“The new front-line mental health workers are law enforcement officers and the new psychiatric hospitals are the prisons and the jails,” says Powitzky, who has spent most of his four-decade long career as a psychologist in prison systems. “It’s wrong, it’s just plain wrong.”…

 

October 23, 2012 Posted by | health care | , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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