Over half prisoners have mental problems

Over half (almost 57%) of prisoners in Dutch jails have a psychiatric disorder, according to research by an expertise centre in the area of mental illness and crime, reports Tuesday’s Volkskrant.

A survey by the Nijmegen-based Pompe Foundation concludes that of the 50,000 people who go to prison annually (93% are men), between 80% and 90% have had psychiatric problems on at least one occasion in their lives, says the paper. This includes addiction and personality disorders.
The research focused on detainees in ordinary prisons. According to the researchers, suspects are given a general medical screening which only identifies prisoners who are psychotic or have a serious mental problem, reports the paper.
This is a very small percentage and is filtered out of the system. The remainder are sent to ordinary prisons, says the Volkskrant.
Some 38% of prisoners have been diagnosed with the hyperactivity and attention deficit disorder ADHD in their youth and around 5% of them still have this problem as adults.
Prisoners with psychiatric problems rarely ask for help, the paper reports. ‘That doesn’t fit in with prison culture. You can’t be seen to be vulnerable, you have to be tough and dominant,’ says researcher Erik Bulten in the Volkskrant.
He says prison staff should be better trained to recognise the need for help even when this is hidden. Medical assistance can reduce the chance of prisoners re-offending, he tells the Volkskrant.

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