Prisoners with Special Needs


Prisoners have special diverse needs that allow the recognition of some specific populations. The correctional authorities are aware of such needs. The department needs to be aware of and handle appropriately besides providing the normal correctional measures. Special Needs Offender Offenders are comprised of offenders whose characteristics are unique and therefore stand out from the rest of the prisoners. Some several of such needs but a good example are mental illness, substance abuse and HIV. Since all prisons have the same program, inmate transfer takes place in order to get their needs met.  The main aim of this coursework is to explain the needs of special offenders.

1. How special needs, mentally ill, and substance-abusing prisoners affect the jail and prison systems at state and federal levels?

Prisons receive funding from the state or federal agencies and therefore have to cater for the needs of the Special needs offenders which may not be done by the governing bodies of a majority of local jails. The United States compelled the federal government to build state mental hospital arguing that the prisoners were a special case and needed to be under medication and not be punished in prison. The California State Senate was forced to intervene in 1973 to find a solution for the problem of accumulating individuals who were mentally ill in prisons and jails. The state and the federal government are on the spot of failing to setup a mental-health facility for the mentally ill individuals who have been deinstitutionalized hence are soon arrested and put in jail or prison which then becomes congested (Ammerman et al, 1999).

2. What would happen if these prisoners were not cared for properly?

Special Needs Offenders can easily be best cared for if admitted in hospitals than left unmonitored since they will be easily inappropriately detained in prison. The special needs prisoners with a need for treatment and care. Some have attempted suicide as a result of poor care. For instance, if the psychiatrists will not ensure that seriously mentally ill individuals don’t enter the criminal Justice system, they will end up into prison since when they fall out of the psychiatric care they easily break the law hence risk being in prison. The early the diversion of the individual from the criminal justice system, the easier it is to protect him or her from an unnecessary imprisonment. The individually may also fall victims of physical and sexual harassment. The prisons and jails  are no longer in a position of providing treatment for mental illness hence keeping the affected people there is a risk to public safety and an economically expensive intervention of fighting crime (Ammerman et al, 1999).


3. Select a prison special offender population and research a program aimed to assist or care for that population.

Substance abuse affects individuals have a two in one problem. They need to satisfy their strong urge for the substance they abuse at the same time they have a problem with sanitation. One of the most effective programs for substance abuse is the therapeutic communities. However, for the program to work effectively, the there must be a competent staff, the correctional authorities must throw in their support, resources should be available, the aim of the therapy should be to lessen other harms that may be beyond the abuse of the drugs and care must be continued after the paroling of the inmates (Ammerman et al, 1999).


4. What are the characteristics of the program?

The program involves to efforts to successively rehabilitate the participants because it involves separation of the participants from other prisoners. The participants are secluded to reduce the influence by other non-participant drug users or suppliers and other forms of violence associated with drug use. It is based on personal responsibility of sticking to the program guidelines and their nurture of the abilities to confront their substance abuse habits The program also incorporates drug education such as alcohol education, counseling, HIV education, vocational training, psychological rehabilitation and life-skills training (Ammerman et al, 1999).


5. How has the program affected the special offender population in that prison?

The results indicated a reduction in relapse, recidivism rates and re-arrest than the control population. It was shown that those who dropped out of the program had higher re-arrest rates and relapse than those who managed to complete the program. The participants are mainly assisted to avert the deep rooted negative patterns of their thinking culture as well as their strong desires that that prompt them to the abuse of drugs. Therapeutic communities were found to be the most effective of all the programs used in substance abuse.


Indeed the Prisoners with Special Needs in the USA have a big problem although the correction authorities and medical departments have their share of the problem. Some of these population include those with mentally ill, drug abuse and HIV individuals. There are a number of movements that have volunteered to push for the provision of the needs. A number of programs have been suggested but therapeutic communities have been effective.






Ammerman, R., Ott, P. J., & Tarter, R. E. (1999). Prevention and Societal Impact of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.