"Care Warning with Prisoners with Mental Health Issues"
Governor says some inmates should be in hospital rather than jail The governor of Scotland's biggest jail has claimed many prisoners are mentally unwell and should be in hospital rather than in prison.
Derek McGill said he could fill an entire hall at Barlinnie with people who have mental health problems - and claimed the prison could help them to stabilise and reduce the chance they will reoffend. However he insisted many "shouldn't touch" the prison system and said jail conditions could exacerbate their illnesses.He added: "We've got people here who shouldn't be in prison in the first place. We have five people a month who are convicted by the courts, but are sectioned and should go to hospital. There are no beds available at the State Hospital or in the community, so they are committed to Barlinnie. "On top of that, we have two or three people a month here who we section ourselves and take to hospital."
The problem is long standing, but so widespread that Barlinnie has set up a day-care centre within the prison where its most vulnerable inmates can access counselling, relaxation and yoga sessions, activities to improve their self-esteem and "Therapet" sessions with a dog which visits the jail. Mr. McGill said the day-care centre benefited the prison and the prisoners. He denied it was molly-coddling inmates and said he did not wish to minimise the crimes they had committed, but he insisted the centre's work could actually cut crime when people are released.
This article is an extract from the “The Herald ” ~ written Stephen Naysmith
Article appeared in the “The Herald ” news section page 8, on the 3rd July 2012.
Note:Therapet Volunteers Willie and Alyson with Therapet "Pepper" have been visiting with Pepper in Barlinnie since 2008.