Prisoners with Special Needs


Prisonerswith Special Needs

Prisonerswith special needs

Criminaljustice systems are critical institution in the maintenance of lawand order. The systems are required to cater for different types ofoffenders ranging from the physically fit, mentally ill prisoners,special needs offenders and substance abusing offenders (Atabay,2009). The last three fall under the category of special offenderswhich necessitates the state and the federal systems to give themspecial attention under special criminal and justice orrehabilitation programs. Such special need offenders affect the stateand the federal systems in terms of cost involved in constructing thefacilities for these inmates, cost of medication including physicianprescriptions and cost of therapies. According to the report by theBureau of Justice Statistics, there has been a growing number ofmentally ill offenders since the year 2006, thereby straining thecorrectional systems.

Thestate is mandated to provide reasonable care to special needsoffenders to prevent consequential crimes from happening if thehealth status of these inmates deteriorates (Crow, 2001). The Specialneed offenders may end up harming themselves or even cause injuriesto other inmates if they are not properly taken care of, others maysuffer from substance related illnesses and withdrawal syndrome. Thestate must therefore ensure that the mentally ill offenders haveaccess to psychiatric and mental therapies as recommended and ensurethat they are separated from the rest of prison population to preventthem from harming others. On the other hand, the substance abuseoffenders must have access to drug treatment programs, specializedtreatment for drug related illnesses and mental health treatment aswell depending on the level of substance abuse. The securitypersonnel in the prison must ensure that such substance abuseoffenders do not access the drugs while in prison.

TheTexas Department of criminal justice- Parole Division deals withmentally ill offenders. The institution runs a program known asSpecial Needs Offender Program(SNOP) The main objective of theprogram is to provide administrative guidelines for continuity ofcare for the mentally challenged offenders identified by the Texascorrectional office prior to release from the correctionalInstitutions division. The program groups the offenders intodifferent categories ranging from the mentally impaired with ahistory of diagnosis of Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. Other categories include the mentally retarded, physically disabledand offenders with multiple needs. SNOP therefore, aims at providingcontinuity of care to special offenders in the prisons and out of theprisons to ensure that the offenders access care after release fromprison thus preventing mental relapse, behavioural disorders whichmay lead to re-offending. Their eligibility criteria is set out toidentify the various people needs for easier management. This isbecause different offenders are known to have different needs andtherefore calls for services that are “custom made” to eachindividual in order to achieve successful mental treatment. Theprogram ensures effective drug administration and therapy to thementally ill patients, and consequent follow-ups of the offendersafter they leave the prison to make sure they continue accessing themedications. The program also incorporates training of the offenderswhile in prison.

Inconclusion, SNOP program in prisons has not only led to effectivemanagement of the special needs conditions but also reducedcriminality. The trainings also enable the offenders to be self-reliant and effectively relate with people outside the prison.


Atabay,T., &amp United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. (2009).&nbspHandbookon prisoners with special needs.New York: United Nations.

Crow,I. (2001).&nbspThetreatment and rehabilitation of offenders.London [u.a.: SAGE.