Mental health is particularly associated with crime due to the disproportionate representation of individuals with serious mental conditions in correctional facilities. Therefore, the role of a psychiatrist in a correctional setting is pivotal since the professionalism and expertise of practitioners predetermine the justice outcomes for offenders. Overall, criminology is considerably associated with psychiatry since both fields work with behavioral deviations. Qualitative and competency-driven application of psychiatric expertise in the contemporary American social and criminal justice systems will eliminate the problem of overpopulation of individuals with mental health in correctional institutions.
The imprisoned population’s composition is characterized by an increased rate of criminals with severe mental health disorders. According to Bonfine et al. (2020), “most county jails in the United States house three times as many people with serious mental illness than would be expected from community-based estimates” (p. 355). The role of psychiatrists is to ensure timely diagnoses and admission of the individuals to specialized institutions for appropriate treatment. Without such procedures, it is considered unjust to expose individuals with mental illnesses to irrelevant conditions where their state of health worsens. Indeed, psychiatrists’ responsibility is to contribute to social and criminal justice systems by recognizing mental illness and providing inmates with adequate care. Such an approach would eliminate the risk of deterioration of health and threatening one’s life.
Overall, psychiatrists’ functions are expected to improve justice in the correctional setting. Since correctional goals are to eliminate threats to public safety and ensure minimized criminal rates, timely and adequate addressing of mental illness allows for achieving these goals. If people with serious mental health illnesses are placed in specialized institutions, they will be less likely to threaten their own lives and the lives and safety of others.
Bonfine, N., Wilson, A. B., & Munetz, M. R. (2020). Meeting the needs of justice-involved people with serious mental illness within community behavioral health systems. Psychiatric Services, 71(4), 355-363.