Many people with learning disabilities and mental illnesses are placed in unsuitable prisons with the nearest women’s prison in Gloucestershire here are why Cornwall desperately needs a mental health hospital.
Andrea Coomber, the director of Justice, told the Guardian: “The criminal justice system is not suitably designed to accommodate people with mental health or learning difficulties. There are still fundamental problems with the criminal justice system’s response to vulnerability, and too few people receive reasonable adjustments to enable them to effectively participate in their defence.”
The majority of women who offend are sent to a prison hundreds of miles from where they live, leaving them vulnerable and more likely to offend as they don’t have any support. Women are also sent to prison for lesser crimes such as theft or assault.
Out of the women who are sent to prison, 30% according to statistics had a previous psychiatric admission before they entered prison. A more recent study found that 25% of women and 15% of men in prison reported symptoms indicative of psychosis. The rate among the general public is about 4%.
26% of women and 16% of men said they had received treatment for a mental health problem
in the year before custody.
Personality disorders are particularly prevalent among people in prison with 57% of female sentenced prisoners have a personality disorder. That’s more than half.
46% of women prisoners reported having attempted suicide at some point in their lives. This is more than twice the rate of male prisoners (21%) and higher than in the general UK population amongst whom around 6% report having ever attempted suicide.
The statistics clearly show that women would certainly benefit more from being housed in a mental health hospital closer to home with therapies and education instead of being put to work in a prison. Why should anyone be punished for having a mental illness?
Mark Day, head of policy and communications for The Prison Reform Trust (PRT) said: “Simply building more prisons and filling them up with people who are often severely mentally ill, as a result of prison they lose contact with their children and their families.”It’s not the solution certainly to women’s offending.”
Do you think that Cornwall needs a mental health hospital and that woman prisoners with mental health issues should be sent to a hospital instead?
If you or a loved one is in prison or has been to prison and they have a mental illness let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, or you can join in the discussions on our social media pages.