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Old 08-23-2019, 11:31 AM
meganjournalist meganjournalist is offline
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Post Recidivism Rates and Mental Health Research

Hi everyone. My name is Megan and I am a Canadian journalist studying at a university in Toronto, Ontario. I am researching the criminal justice system and am searching for people to speak to about their personal experience. I am specifically researching recidivism rates and whether mental health has an impact on that.

If anyone is open to speaking to me about their experience, I would be thrilled to speak to you.

Before any of you share about yourself, here is a little bit about me. Since I have not been personally impacted by the prison system, I felt I was extremely uneducated. Unfortunately, I feel this is very common and I want my research to help educate and inform others. I did my undergraduate degree in psychology and am specifically interested in mental health.

I look forward to speaking to whoever is interested and thank you in advance!
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Old 08-23-2019, 12:20 PM
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Old 08-23-2019, 12:23 PM
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Welcome to PTO, meganjounalist.

If you want to read about what it's like to have a loved one incarcerated, I suggest you simply start reading the questions and concerns that show up all over the PTO forum, including the individual state forums and the "specialty" forums.

We all would love to see significant reform of the prison system. But to get an idea of where the baseline is currently, you simply need to read. There's a lot there. It can be very emotional reading.
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Old 08-23-2019, 12:50 PM
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Welcome to Prison Talk Megan. Something to consider in your research are the differences between incarceration in Canada versus the US. Not only the length of sentence and actual prison conditions, but also the severity of the post-prison "supervision" requirements.

The US isn't the worlds largest prison by accident. The clearest differences are the way the US Customs and Border enforcement is treating "immigrants" today, legal and illegal ones.
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Old 08-24-2019, 06:04 PM
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My first thought when I read the O.P.s comment “I am specifically researching recidivism rates and whether mental health has an impact on that. “ was which came first, the chicken or the egg? And so, does recidivism contribute to mental health problems or do mental health problems contribute to recidivism? While it’s a question worth contemplating, it’s also a riddle of sorts. At the end of the day, if you keep going back to prison (which I have on numerous occasions) it’s going to beat you down, psychologically. You’re forced to give in to the reality that mentally ill or not we live in a world where we’re judged by our actions. You give up on trying to do it your way, the way you want, when you want it and how you want it for the sake of freedom or you give up your freedom.
I’ve had good experience and bad to do with mental health in prison and outside of it in the free world. If you want to get better then, you will. If you don’t really care then, it is what it is. There have been a number of diagnosis done on me in the past ranging from Depression to Bi polar disorder to PTSD and a number of medications to boot from anti-depressants to mood stabilizers. I don’t take anything right now and have not for close to a couple of years. I have my own personal take on the whole mental health issue concerning those of us who bounce in and out of prison and I’ve seen much since 1989 when I first got locked up here in Texas. Bill Wilson said a mouthful when he said in “How It Works” on page 58 of the text Alcoholics Anonymous:

There are those too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.

Those with true mental disorders are easier to recognize and treat with medication and mental health assistance. They are worthy of an SSI check for mental disability and I want them to have it. I want them to have the best that life can offer because they are faced with a disadvantage that the rest of us were not born with or did not acquire somewhere along the way. Those of us with emotional disorders or what is more commonly referred to as behavioral disorders in this era are not as easy to treat, work with, medicate or figure out. We’re the ones that have more of an issue with our attitude and the ego than we do with the neurotransmitters of the brain. Medication can be helpful and/or at times, but with us we need to focus more on correcting our behavior through the action or the choices we make which in turn, affects the way we think. Is there enough help in the United States for someone who is mentally with a felony conviction to make it out here? Yes, there is. There’s too much help out here not to make it for someone cares, but if you don’t really care then, there’s never enough help for you, the world over.

In the state of Texas, it’s not that hard to get help with mental health issues and solutions. People care about us that work in the mental health field and the world is a better place because of them. If you work in some capacity as a mental health profession or aspire to do so, you make a tremendous difference in the lives of many that need your help and would be lost without you. God bless you all
.
Having said that, let’s be real about what the problem among some who are prisoners, parolees or probationers that are a part of the mental health effort in this country.

1. Some want the medication to do everything. Anything beyond that is something they won’t get real about. They’re lazy and they won’t put forth the effort to participate in therapy or any number of programs designed for mental health wellness and they won’t follow any guidelines to do with diet, exercise or the willingness to grow spiritually. And you know why they’re like that? The only thing that matters is the way they feel. That’s the sum total of their entire existence, their feelings. You’re forever upping the dosage of a medication and then changing to another one when you reach the ceiling. They’re also the group that has the worst problems with alcohol/drug usage, relapse and committing crimes for the sake of getting high. And I’ve been there. I know from experience so, I’m not chunking rocks at anyone. I say this from my own experience and if the truth be known, the majority of us who bounce back and forth from prison are faced with this struggle more so than any other. It centers on the obsession to change or enhance the way one feels at all costs. Until one reaches the point where “what I do means more to me” than” the way I feel means to me” ………….don’t get too comfortable here in the free world, you won’t be here long. Prison is where you’re headed, again. I’ve been there 4 time……spent 18 years in there and I may not know much, but I know that.

2. To some, mental health care is not a way to address a mental health problem, it’s about manipulating the system from within prison to get done whatever it is one has on their mind. A bottom bunk, moved from one tank to another, moved from one prison to another, a way to get out of a job assignment, a way to get out of school, a way to avoid confrontation with someone that a debt is owed to. It’s a way to get somebody else to pay the bills. It’s about SSI checks, free housing, food stamps, free health care and whatever else can be planned out for the future upon release. It’s all for the sake of being a dead beat, many of whom have every intention of selling drugs on the side for more money.

I’ve had some stuff happen to me in prison that wasn’t right concerning a few folks that worked in the mental health field. The Gurney unit….Dr. Weirdo who liked to touch where it’s not appropriate to touch, but they fired him and that’s that. Hutchins State Jail…..Psychologist Attila the midget hun-ess who got a kick of out of cutting to pieces every man that entered her office with psychopath or sociopath diagnosis to any and every one. East Texas Treatment Facility…….the doctors who prescribe psychiatric medication are not to do with mental health. Someone in mental health that cannot prescribe meds will make a referral to one of the doctors in medical. I was prescribed Depakote by an urologist in spite of the fact that I told them I have hepatitis c and it has affected my health. I now have cirrhosis and although I can’t prove it, I didn’t have it before the Depakote. I feel bad physically because of that drug and what it did it to me.

So…..it hasn’t been all roses. There is room for improvement, but there’s more to be said of those who receive the help and what needs to be done on their part than those who offer it. Don’t blame it on the system or society or anyone else if you’re having trouble with recidivism and or mental health issues. Help is out there, but most often it’s better suited for those that want it and not necessarily just for those that need it.
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