Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Gov’t tackles mental illness among inmates

Published:Monday | April 3, 2017 | 4:00 AM

State Minister for National Security, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr, said the Government will be putting measures in place to deal with mentally ill people in lockups.

"There are plans to allocate budgetary and manpower resources to meet the treatment needs of the mentally ill who are incarcerated. We also hope to amend legislation to address the criminal justice process to determine how to refer mentally ill arrestees and offenders to various treatment programmes," he noted.

He said the objective is to give inmates access to a standard of treatment that is consistent with their rights as human beings and get them rehabilitated.

Charles was speaking last week following a meeting to look at the varying circumstances of persons who would fall in the category of unfit to plead if they are in a correctional facility, and the establishment of a system to divert such persons to the appropriate treatment centres.

The meeting included representatives from the national security, justice, and health ministries, the Department of Correctional Services, and mental-health stakeholders.


Charles said the ministry was looking to engage all the relevant partners in order to ensure "that persons won't get caught in a situation where they commit crimes because of irrationality; and for those who are incarcerated with mental-health conditions, we want to ensure that they are able to get assessed".

The state minister said that a proposal has been made to develop psychiatric units in correctional departments with help from the health ministry, in order to provide acute care to mentally ill persons.

Charles said that research has shown a critical link between mental illness, and crime and violence.

He noted that a number of crimes have been committed by persons of unsound mind who have been untreated, or by others with unrecognised mental-health issues.

He made an appeal to relatives of mentally ill persons to "take the time to show some love and care to their relatives to aid in the recovery process".