By Pyerse Dandridge
Author: Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp
There are many reasons why men’s mental health is ignored in regards to recidivism. According to many members of society, men’s mental health in association with crime has little bearing on their decisions. It is often considered an act of desperation for an individual to plead insanity in their case. If one is considered to have been aware and understood that their crime was wrong, the insanity plea does not stick. However, mental health disorders are not that simple to define.
Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, phobias, and many other disorders develop while men are incarcerated. However, upon their release, they are sent out into the world still carrying the stigmas as former criminals. Therefore, society focuses on their past as such, rather than the fact that those crimes were paid for in full; as a result, making any mental disorders and traumas virtually impossible for society to accept as legitimate problems.
Other than the clear fact that society often fails to have any sympathy for former criminals, no matter the rhyme or reason; money is another main reason that mental illness is ignored. The inability to solve the problem due to the high expense leaves the criminal justice system unable to intervene in the area. It is reported that psychiatric help is over twice as expensive as incarcerating a single prisoner annually. Therefore, it remains unlikely that the system will take the step to consider mental health issues as a real problem that results in recidivism. Ignoring the problem leads to forgetting its existence.
It seems that society is unable to think of these men in a “take a walk in their shoes” scenario. These men are incarcerated with other men who have committed various crimes. Even men convicted on nonviolent charges are changed forever; often experiencing severe emotional trauma that prevents them from interacting with society in a positive way. Their illness is often ignored because they are considered to have “made their choice.” They made the decision to commit the crime, and they should suffer the consequences; whatever that may be.
It seems the main reason mental illness is ignored is that it’s easier to do so. It’s easier to think of these men in one light and never gives them a chance to make it right; to put their lives on a better track. For this reason, alone, mental illness in former convicts will likely never be treated properly to prevent recidivism in their futures.