February 28, 2005

Prisons Overloaded w/Mentally Ill

While the problem of USA prisons being overloaded with mentally ill prisoners is well known, a new report in by "Corrections Canada" (a government agency) reports that the same problem is true in Canada.

A recent news report by Canadian Press reports:

"An inept justice system is putting more mentally ill people in federal prisons, where there is little treatment available for them, says a newly released report.

Corrections Canada must spend more on doctors and facilities to treat as many as 1,500 prisoners who need urgent help each day, the internal study concludes.

"The criminal justice system continues to be used to catch those who fall through the gaps in Canada's social safety net," says the Corrections Canada report, obtained under the Access to Information Act."

Corrections Canada does no formal clinical assessment of new prisoners who may have mental health problems, such as schizophrenia or personality disorders.

  The report, prepared last summer for the department's executive committee, says that on any given day, 2,154 offenders are suffering from an anxiety disorder; 375 are suffering from organic brain problems, such as fetal alcohol syndrome; and 7,125 are suffering from an antisocial personality disorder. Many struggle with more than one problem.

   Research suggests about 11 per cent of newly arriving prisoners had a mental disorder in 2004, compared with about seven per cent in 1997.

   Corrections Canada runs five mental health centres with beds for only 5.5 per cent of the total Canadian prison population.

  The internal report was prompted in part by a complaint from the Kingston branch of the John Howard Society to the Canadian Human Rights Commission about the local mental health facility.

For more information see:

Canadian Prisons overloaded with mentally ill: report

USA - Mentally Ill in Prisons Report - As many as one in five (20%) of the 2.1 million Americans in jail and prison are seriously mentally ill, far outnumbering the number of mentally ill who are in mental hospitals, according to a comprehensive study. Source: Human Rights Watch

Corrections Canada - Home Page


I have recently discovered that my 11 yr. old sons father is paranoid schizophrenic. As far as I remember back, he has always been paranoid. He is in a prison now and I have questions concerning why he was not put somewhere to receive mental treatment. He comes from a family that was abused by their father at very young ages. I believe that because of his family history, one that lacked the support and caring of his father, pretty much made matters worse for him and ignited this illness to the point of landing him in prison. He swears he wanted to commit suicide and had powers that normal people didn't have. I have to live with the thought that my son will never have a relationship with his father and I have to worry about my son developing this disease. I need to find out what to do and how to cope with all these feelings I have and the scary reality of this disease. What kind of help is out there and how come it is so easy for the powers that be to decide that a 33 yr. old man should spend the next 40 years in prison? It seems that there should be more investigation into this disease before we throw away the key on mentally ill people.

Posted by: kim at May 9, 2005 09:48 PM

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