Training Corrections Officers on Mental Illness Promotes Prison Safety

Case Western Reserve University mental health researcher Joseph Galanek spent a cumulative nine months in an Oregon maximum-security prison to learn first-hand how the prison manages inmates with mental illness. What he found, through 430 hours of prison observations and interviews, is that inmates were treated humanely and security was better managed when cell block officers were trained to identify symptoms of mental illness and how to respond to them.

Galanek’s observations and interviews with 23 staff members and 20 inmates with severe mental illness are described in the Medical Anthropology Quarterly article, “Correctional Officers and the Incarcerated Mentally Ill: Responses to Psychiatric Illness in Prison.”

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