In today’s criminal justice system, correctional facilities are often the first line of defense when safely addressing the myriad mental health issues that many of our colleagues see daily. And as former practitioners, we fully understand the importance of housing inmates appropriately based on their specific mental health needs.
But how can we be sure we are making the right decisions when correctional facilities across the country are so overwhelmed?
Mental Health Within the Justice System
Mental health issues are noticeably more prevalent within jails and prisons compared to the general population. An estimated 44% of those in jail have a mental illness, while 63% of those in jail suffer from a substance abuse disorder. This unprecedented level of mental health issues can leave our colleagues feeling helpless and unable to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
And although jails intake inmates suffering from mental health issues daily, historically, these facilities do not have the space or the proper infrastructure to address each inmate’s individual needs.
The Impact of Accurate Housing Assignments
Housing, in particular, is just one factor proven to impact overall inmate behavior and mental health significantly.
This is why classification is so important – and essentially the foundation of inmate management. However, correctional facilities are often not properly built for classification, and housing units are not typically constructed to sufficiently monitor and manage inmates as needed. This issue also exposes counties to litigation in various ways, as it creates the inability to manage daily challenges.
How the Northpointe Suite Can Help
The good news is that there are strategies your team can implement to address these challenges and their impact on mental health. Classification is a key component as it allows your team to gather data critical to assigning appropriate housing for inmates.
The Northpointe Suite’s classification management module allows your team to conduct several screenings that inform evidence-based treatment and effective behavior plans, including general mental health, suicide risk, PTSD, drug abuse risk, and more. Using our Classification Decision Tree to accurately determine risk levels can also help inform sound housing decisions that protect your inmates’ physical and mental health.
And while it’s not a solution to our daily mental health infrastructure issue, it’s a step in the right direction.
Contact us today so that we can help you develop a strategy fit for your facility.