Medicine and the Epidemic of Incarceration in the United States

This is the best researched analysis of the dynamics of prison medicine as it relates to the issue of mental disorders. However, there are a few issues they don’t touch on which are tangential and in the process I believe do a great disservice to the public. The first is that mixing those with mental disorders in prisons with the general population has some real dangers. The single largest threat is the facilitation of using psychotropic drugs to tranquilize the general prison population. As much as 47 percent of the inmates in some prison go to pill line once or twice a day. Another problem is that drug addicts can leave prison with a bigger addiction than they came to prison with. Pared with that is many non-addicts can leave prison with an addiction. lastly is the fact that drugs become a form of currency within a prison environment. No matter how closely supervised pill lines are, there are a host of devices and mechanisms where the pills can be saved and bartered later. I challenge anyone in authority to take the data developed in this paper and match it against the numbers and types of psychotropic drugs dispensed in the jails and prisons of the general and Florida in particular.

Medicine Incarceration NEJM 060211

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