Correctional Psychiatry

Correctional psychiatry is a challenging subspecialty that has evolved from the need to provide treatment to the large number of offenders with mental illness that are behind bars. Professionals working in jails and prisons must fully understand the unique nature of this environment and the population treated.

Challenges and Rewards

The last 2 to 3 decades have seen a dramatic increase in mandatory prison sentences, longer prison terms, and more restrictive release policies. There are roughly 2.3 million individuals currently incarcerated in US correctional facilities, with a disproportionate number having psychiatric disorders. Mental illnesses among prisoners have exceeded rates of these disorders in the general population consistently.
The country’s largest mental health facilities are prisons
About 15% of incarcerated people have serious mental illness, although that number can vary, depending on the type of illness,” she noted, adding that this number “does not account for people who [have psychological problems] but may not meet full criteria for a formal diagnosis.

Mental Health System

For correctional facilities include the following

Systematic screening/evaluation program

To identify inmates who require mental health treatment

Treatment that goes beyond merely segregating

The mentally ill inmate and increasing correctional supervision

Treatment by a sufficient number

Of trained mental health professionals to identify and treat inmates with serious mental illness

Maintenance of accurate, complete, and confidential

Records of the mental health treatment process

Suicide prevention program

Understand the problem of jail suicide rates of suicide in certain groups, the decrease in jail suicide rates, what makes jails risky environments, and challenges of prevention.

Appropriate use of psychotropic medication

Prescription/monitoring by appropriate trained/licensed staff to treat actual mental disorders rather than solely as a means of behavior management

Complexities of Confidentiality
The confidentiality that is ordinarily central to the physician-patient relationship is not possible in a prison setting. Correctional officers call patients to psychiatric appointments, monitor patients during medication rounds, and may be present when nurses dispense treatment.

Correctional Psychiatry: Challenges and Rewards

Psychopharmacologic Challenges

A fundamental goal of correctional psychiatry is to provide timely access to mental health services and psychotropic medication to inmates who need them, regardless of custody level, disciplinary or legal status, and housing location


The American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law statement emphasizes that mental health treatment “involves more than just prescribing psychotropic medication, and psychiatrists should not be limited to this role.”

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Meet your care team

Rest assured that you’re receiving the best mental health care from exceptional providers. Our therapists and psychiatrists are not only licensed and board-certified, they put your mental health first. We believe everyone deserves to be heard and happy.

Catherine Smith, PA
Psychiatry PA

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • ADHD
Faisal Tai, MD

  • Insomia
  • Anxiety
Sabrina Daniell, NP
Psychiatry NP

  • Eating Disorders
  • PTSD

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