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From The CriticsReviewer: David M. Montani, MD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book outlines standards of psychiatric services in jails and prisons. It is an update of a book first published in 1989.
Purpose: The authors' purpose is to show how services can be provided morally and ethically to the vast numbers of inmates with mental illness. Considering the conditions inside many correctional facilities, this is a worthy objective. Unfortunately, aside from providing a bare bones outline of certain standards, the practitioner will not find much to help him or her address day-to-day care issues.
Audience: The authors state that the primary use is for teaching and training mental health professionals; however, they also note that the included guidelines have been used by administrators and in litigation and monitoring. The administrators and litigators will find this book more useful than the practitioners.
Features: After a brief overview of issues related to mental health treatment in correctional facilities, this book outlines guidelines for each step of mental healthcare in jails and prisons, e.g. who should perform a screening, who should be able to refer an inmate for a comprehensive examination, what components should be included in discharge planning, etc. Since many of the same issues apply to prisons and to jails, this section gets tedious and repetitious.
Assessment: As guidelines need to be periodically revised to maintain currency and credibility, an update is needed. At the same time, many of the current issues in correctional mental health were issues in 1989; they have only become more salient with changing demographics in jails and prisons. Lawyers needing to reference a document for litigation and administrators wishing to plan services or avoid litigation will find the second edition valuable and needed.