Health Care in Prison

Health care in prison

Prisons are prone to diseases and there is a need to prevent and control them. Most prisons are crowded with poor living conditions exposing prisoners to communicable diseases such as tuberculosis. A high number of prisoners also have mental disorders such as depression. Health care services in prisons have a wide range of professionals such as dentists, nurses, and psychiatrists who attend to these prisoners.

The World Health Organization outlines the expected standards of health care in prisons. Every prison should have health care services that are available to the prisoners. Health care professionals in the prison should have connections to local hospitals in case of severe cases that need a referral for advanced treatment.

Due to the prolonged failure of states in the US to fund mental health systems, most people with addiction and mental disorders end up in prison. Close to 44 states have more prisoners with mental disorders than the largest psychiatric hospital. This burdens prisons as the taxpayer has to give tax to maintain them. Approximately 10% to 15% of prisoners have mental disorders.

Addiction is one of the major causes of crime that leads to imprisonment. Crimes committed due to addiction are categorized into three; system-related, use-related and economic-related. Use-related is a situation where a drug user commits a crime because they are intoxicated. Economic related is a situation where the drug user commits a crime to get money to buy the substance. System-related is a situation whereby the drug user engages in the production, transportation, and sale of the drugs.

Before treating a person who is addicted to drugs it is essential to understand what made him commit the crime. Failure to take time to understand the drug users and rehabilitate them leads to the drug users committing more crimes even after release. Every prison should have a psychiatrist who should attend to prisoners with mental issues.

Although the World Health Organization has outlined the standards of health care that every prison is supposed to abide by. Reports show that the provision of health care in prisons is not up to standard and the number of prisoners dying due to lack of proper health care is on the increase. All prison health services should provide health care that is equal to the one offered to the community. Their services should meet the needs of the patient.


Reed, J. (2003). Mental health care in prisons. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 182(4), 287-288.

Watson, R., Stimpson, A., & Hostick, T. (2004). Prison health care: a review of the literature. International journal of nursing studies, 41(2), 119-128.




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