Prison system failing mentally ill inmates
Edmond Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major General Stewart Saunders, has suggested that the correctional centres are failing hundreds of mentally ill persons who are being held in custody.
His comments come against the background of revelation that three psychiatrists are attending to 264 mentally ill persons in two major correctional facilities, 80 of whom are unfit to plea in court.
Saunders told members of the Internal and External Affairs Committee of Parliament today that the correctional department did not have adequately trained staff or appropriate infrastructure.
He said it lacked an environment that is conducive to effectively treating and rehabilitating mentally ill inmates in adult institutions.
Major General Saunders argued that the ratio of psychiatrists to mentally ill inmates was totally unacceptable.
However, he said with the limited resources the department tries to meet the needs of the mentally ill persons.
He also informed that the Jamaica Association of Psychologists recently volunteered its services to go into the correctional centres and help.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Corrections, Jevene Bent told the committee that she recently made a presentation to the National Security Council on the challenges faced by the mentally ill.
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