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Mental Health Post Traumatic Prison Disorder

WHEREAS, the combination of anxiety, insomnia, depression and the effects of incarceration are symptoms of Post Traumatic Prison Condition; and

WHEREAS, trauma and PTSD typically go unrecognized and untreated within the prison population. Unless they receive intervention to address their complicated trauma-related issues, they will return to their families and communities with potentially even more severe mental health needs and fewer skills; and

WHEREAS, the American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails, as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories. An additional 4.7 million people are on probation or parole; and

WHEREAS, the fastest growing population in U.S. prisons are women, entering at nearly double the rate of men. Trauma is a key factor to their entry; and

WHEREAS, incarcerated women with higher rates of trauma understandably also have higher rates of anxiety, depression and explosive anger than those without such histories; and

WHEREAS, Black women are still approximately six times more likely to be incarcerated than white women, mirroring the racial disparities seen in the male population and are still much less likely to be involved in violent crime; and

WHEREAS, parents with minor children make up 54 percent of people incarcerated in prisons and jails, with more than 120,000 mothers and 1.1 million fathers; and

WHEREAS, at least 95 percent of people incarcerated in state prisons will be released back to their communities at some point; and

WHEREAS, American correctional facilities are known for high recidivism rates. On a national level, 76 percent of all inmates end up back in jail within five years; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. black population in particular is disproportionately affected by both trauma and contact with the criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS, not only were individuals with a history of arrest more likely to experience traumatic events, they tended to experience them at an earlier age than individuals who were not arrested; and

WHEREAS, there are different types of trauma and contact with the criminal justice system specific to certain types of violent trauma (e.g., rape or assault vs. combat or war-related experiences) or there is a cumulative effect of repeated exposure to trauma and likelihood of involvement with the criminal justice system; and

WHEREAS, a recent study could not exactly pinpoint the causes of PTSD in this population. It is believed that it could be that people with PTSD are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated or that prison time directly leads to the development of PTSD, or both; and

WHEREAS, PTSD is a devastating and life-changing condition when left untreated. It is associated with unemployment, suicide, domestic violence, assaults, substance abuse and other mental health issues; and

WHEREAS, current estimates indicate suicide is the leading cause of death in jails and juvenile facilities. Suicide also is the fifth most common cause of death in state and federal prisons; and

WHEREAS, formerly incarcerated individuals struggle to reestablish orrepair personal relationships and must also find employment and housing. Reentry is a time when individuals are more at risk to attempting suicide.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP strongly supports measures that will ensure prison personnel, from guards to administrators, possess basic core competencies in trauma-informed mental health.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP strongly support a policy that provides comprehensive services to those incarcerated by through that are credentialed in trauma and behavioral care.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advocate on the state and national level that there should be an investment in behavioral healthcare services, including screening, assessment and clinical interventions for trauma. Also, providing trauma informed services should be the standard of care by frontline psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurses and other professionals in correctional settings and settings serving formerly incarcerated Individuals.

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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