This article reflects the view of psychiatrists on the possibilities of healing behind prison walls. Do psychiatrists understand the mind of the convict, or care about the patient’s suffering? There are caring clinicians among correctional mental health workers, but in too many cases that the caring eventually wanes as burnout occurs. The authors argue that if black males commit crimes, they should be punished, as should everyone else. However, they should not have to fear for their lives or their physical and psychological well-being while they are in prison. Nowhere in America is it morally or legally right to torture a human being, and it should not be permitted to go on in prison where it is hidden from society. “Prison psychosis,” “torture,” and “revenge” are terms that are not typically uttered in conversations about the state of America’s prison system, yet they are staple subjects in debates about prisons in China, Russia, Israel, and other countries around the world. In the opinion of the authors, the United States does not want its skeletons out of the closet for the world to see, as the world saw the brutal, hateful bones of slavery in early America. Therefore, most prisons are constructed in remote, predominantly white, undereducated communities where residents are already hostile toward black people and are most willing to keep the truth about prison a secret.
prison, psychiatry — psychosis; African Americans — prisoners
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 3 (2000): 50-55