Mental health treatment within the prison system

Hayes, Jamil/KING Millz

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Mental Health Treatment Within the Prison System I've been locked down on the Tier Program going on two years now. hat being said I've created a system of how I do my time, though I still cant completely conquer my anxiety. It can get so bad to the point I feel like I need to get out of my cell. So when that happens I'll tell the officer that I have chest pain. I'd then be taken to Medical. The technique worked fine for me because 1. I'd get a little sun light and air on the walk to Medical and two, I'd get to be around the beautiful nurses. But it soon became expensive because the state charges 5.00 each time an inmate receives medical attention. Even if all the nurse does is tell you nothing is wrong with you. Then on top of that the C.O.'s began catching on that I only cried chest pain when I wanted out of my cell. They began ignoring my pleading of chest pain like the boy who cried wolf. So I then began claiming mental health issues. Because of the high suicide rate on the tier program you can't be denied mental health. Mental health also doesn't charge to be seen by them. So I would be seen by doctors just to be sent back to my cell. I wasn't very good at acting crazy. 1. The doctors aren't illiterate and 2. I smile too much to have issues going on. But as long as I was able to come out of my cell I was ok. But one particular time I went to see the doctors, things didn't go as they always did. Instead of sending me back to my cell I was transferred to a prison that specialized with dealing with mental health inmates. I was sent there awaitin an mental health evaluation. Three other inmates transferred with me. Most inmates being sent to this prison for evaluations were put immediately on 'status'. Status is suicide watch. When your on 'status' your in a bare cell without any of your property and naked for days and weeks waiting to be evaluated by a doctor. So until you see a doctor your in a empty cell 24 hours a day. Naked without a mat, blanket with the AC turned up high. Thank God I didn't go on status because I wouldn't be compliant. I was instead taken to the regular hole. But from my point of view, status seemed more like punishment. Why leave a person who hasn't broken any rules in a empty cell, naked, no reading material, and have to eat your meals with your fingers. I don't see how it helps your sanity. During my stay at the prison, I got to experience a little of how it is for inmates dealing with mental health conditions, and how the prison system treats these types of inmates. I feel for these inmates because a lot of them truly are dealin with issues that need to be addressed and treated. The inmate already taken the first step by seeking mental health services but instead are being punished cruelly for things they cant help. For example, one inmate who lived a few cells down from me screaming all day for reasons no one knows. Every person who comes by his cell, he shouts at. So officers who have little patience becomes quickly irritated. So then they begin shouting back at the inmate: Shut up before I don't feed you! The officer would yell. The mentally ill inmate only gets louder. So when its time to serve trays, the officer refuses to feed the inmate. I have, with my own eyes seen the inmate go days without eating because the officers uses not feeding his as get back for him yelling all day. When in all actuality it doesn't take rocket science to see that the man isn't right in the head. Because these types of inmates don't know their rights, prison staff continue to break them for no other reason than 'I don't like that inmate' or they're angry because they had to fill in for their coworker. Instead of training officers to deal with mental health inmates, the state hires officers who are half mental health themselves, govern mental health inmates. I've seen things that make me angry because these inmates really do have problems but instead of getting the help they need, they are being mistreated. When it comes to mental health counselors, they have so many inmates on their case load. They can't possibly see all their patients. Each counselor might have at least 20 inmates to see. I've heard inmates ask to see their counselor but officers ignore their pleading. Then when the counselor does make rounds in segregation, they only rush out they don't take to even listen to the inmate. They quickly sign door sheets to prove that they did physically see the inmate but didn't even speak to the person. The line I've heard the most was 'uhuh. OK. I'll check into it.' Then fly out, knowing that they wont even think about the inmate after they leave the inmates door. My time at that prison is an experience like never before. Two inmates committed suicide while I was there. I've heard inmates yell out that they're suicidal and need to speak to their counselor. The officer just laughs and says smart comments like, "Make sure you hit a vein' or 'Do it right now so I can watch.' My next door neighbor cut himself with a piece of glass then yelled for the C.O. When the C.O. arrived 30 minutes later, the response was, 'You gotta cut deeper those are nothin but scratches. I wish that I was lying. But this is the reality of whats going on within these walls. Drugs are another major problem. Being in the Hole I've seen so many inmates being dragged to the Hole because they've done too much drugs and start hallucinating. The supervisors punish them by putting the inmate on strip cell, freezing them, that only causes the inmate to become aggressive and self destructive. The doctors will prescribe you medication for anything. The prison supervisors uses medication for behavioral issues. They drug the inmates to the point the inmate can't even function so then the inmate becomes addicted to substance. I've had roommates go into shock because they haven't received their shot. I'm not a doctor but I clearly see that the prison system is creating addicts by shooting inmates up with drugs to control them. Saying that leads me to my next point. Now this inmate who's been introduced to these substances will most likely venture out to illegal substances, because he feels he now needs help remaining calm. Functioning on a day to day basis. Meth and heroin is the two most used drugs. A lot of these inmates don't have the family support so they don't have the funds to afford these drugs, so they lie or commit homosexual acts for them. So then it leads them to violence. Inmates owing other inmates money etc. It is extremely sad how hard it is for mental health inmates. The state is taking advantage of them to the point of testing drugs that been recalled for harmful reasons on inmates. It takes little to no convincing to be prescribed medication. When you see the doctor, all you have to say is "I'm depressed" or I have a hard time sleeping.' The doctor will quickly prescribe you Benadryl and a list of other drugs you've never heard about. The first thing the doctor asked me was 'do you feel like you need medication'? It works for the prison staff because when your so drugged to the point you do nothing but sleep, they don't have to worry about you. Medication is their way of controlling the inmates. Once the drug no longer has an effect on the inmate, the inmate turns to meth and heroin. I can only shake my head and pray that things change because these types of inmates don't deserve the treatment they're getting. Hopefully speaking on whats going on will contribute to changing. But my best advice to any person who has loved ones in the prison system dealing with mental health issues, is to be involved in their life. The inmates are being treated badly and are put in harsh conditions because they don't know their rights. They aren't in their right mind and knowing that, the supervisors are violating these rights every day. Not feeding inmates to punish them. Putting them on illegal strip cell. Refusing them yard call and basic hygienic items and the list goes on. If only the citizens could see whats going on within the prison system. They'd be horrified. But one thing I know for sure is, what happens in the dark, must come to light.

Author: Hayes, Jamil/KING Millz

Author Location: Georgia

Date: June 27, 2019

Genre: Essay

Extent: 6 pages

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