Addressing Federal Prisoner's Mental Health and Criminogenic Needs During Community Reentry
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Within the United States, prisons are experiencing increased numbers of prisoners who have a mental illness. Federal and state prisons have various ways of addressing the needs of prisoners as they transition from prison to the community. Currently, there are federal pilot programs attempting to address the needs of inmates who have a mental illness as well as other factors relating to reentry success, but more should and could be done. The Federal Government should consider expanding current reentry programs to address mental health of the federal prison population upon release to facilitate successful reentry and reduce recidivism in this population. This thesis attempts to argue for the implementation of more programs at the federal level that address not only mental health but also criminogenic factors in the hope that such measures will reduce recidivism for this population and successfully maintain the possibility of this population staying out of prisons in the future. The first portion of this thesis looks at the overall goal of the criminal justice system as well as the implementation of specialized courts attempting to defer individuals away from imprisonment altogether. After establishing the current move to use alternatives to prison as evidence in favor of also implementing measures post-release to effect reentry, current programs at the federal level are discussed as well as the lack of research in this area. Finally, suggestions are made to improve the current programs at the federal level as well as areas of consideration when discussing a population of individuals who straddle both criminal and mentally ill categories.