Letters to the Editor
Psychiatric News
Volume 45 Number 24 page 28-28

The treatment afforded to inmates in the psychiatric special housing unit in California was mischaracterized in the article "Psychiatrists Decry Punishment That Isolates Prisoners" in the September 3 issue.

Inmates on the psychiatric service unit may attend 10 hours of topic-specific psychotherapy groups a week. Inmates are seen by a psychologist/case manager at least weekly and often daily as needed. They also are seen by a unit psychiatrist at least weekly as well. They are able to stand alone in yards where they are within seeing and speaking range of other inmates in the unit. They can earn access to personal radios and televisions. During the year I worked in the psychiatric service unit, many inmates requested to remain in the facility because of the quality of treatment they were receiving.

There is still much to be done to treat incarcerated inmates with mental illness, but in California the Coleman v. Wilson lawsuit and the receiver have been some of the best allies correctional psychiatry has had. If only mentally ill parolees had access to similar services, reincarceration rates would plummet.

Napa, Calif.

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