Improving Conditions for Incarcerated Individuals

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Whereas, in 2019, the United States’ incarceration rate was estimated to be 629 per 100,000 people, which is the highest rate globally and over 8% higher than the closest country; and Whereas, in Indiana, the total jail population has increased 526% from 1970 to 2015 and the total prison population has increased 224% from 1983 to 2018, with our incarceration rates being fourth highest nationally; and Whereas, in 2015, Indiana had the second highest rate of pretrial detainees in the nation at a rate of 272 per 100,000 people; and Whereas, since 2000, the rate of pretrial detainees has increased 72% among Indiana’s 48 rural counties, 43% in 21 small/medium counties, 40% in 22 suburban counties, and 268% in Marion county alone; and Whereas, in the United States, the rate of recidivism is 70% within 5 years of release with few resources to assist reentering individuals find housing, gain employment, or access social services; and Whereas, when connected with employment opportunities, financial planning services, stable housing, and physical and mental health services, rates of recidivism decrease significantly, over 60% amongst those who complete programs, among reentering individuals; and Whereas, incarcerated individuals have higher rates of mental illness than the general population, with approximately 14.5% of men and 31% of women in jails having at least one mental illness as compared to 3.2% and 4.9% respectively amongst the general population; and Whereas, nationally, the number of suicides has increased by 85% in state prisons, 61% in federal prisons, and 13% in local jails from 2001 to 2019, with suicide being the leading cause of death in jails; and Whereas, the risk of suicide in recently released individuals is nearly 6.8 times higher than that of the general population, with most occurring within 28 days of release; and Whereas, in a study of 80 jails by Scheyett et al., 68 reported having no mental health staff who provided care within the jail, 15 reported taking, on average, 5 days or longer to retrieve inmates’ medications and none were utilizing evidence-based screenings to assess for serious mental illnesses, highlighting a concerning disconnect between jail staff and mental health providers; and Whereas, re-entering individuals are unlikely to connect with primary care upon release and very rarely seek mental health services in the months following release; and Whereas, inarcerated individuals are often restricted from accessing rehabilitative social services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), and Medicaid either through a lack of meeting eligibility requirements or personally held beliefs by incarcerated individuals surrounding eligibility and accessing resources; and Whereas, when provided assistance and access to expedited Medicaid enrollment, reentering individuals were more likely to access health services and receive prescriptions; and 263 Whereas, ISMA (RESOLUTION 15-31) advocates for improved health care of incarcerated individuals; therefore, be it RESOLVED, that ISMA support legislation that improves access to comprehensive physical and behavioral health care services for juveniles and adults throughout the incarceration process from intake to re-entry into the community; and be it further RESOLVED, that ISMA support legislation that removes barriers and increases access to social services and benefits apropos to the respective situations of incarcerated individuals and re-entering individuals, such as: (a) food subsidies; (b) healthcare, including Medicare and/or Medicaid; and (c) housing; and be it further RESOLVED, that ISMA work with relevant stakeholders to create discharge planning and programs that connect reentering individuals with primary care providers and medical homes within the community.

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Clark, S., Cooper, S., Brown, L., Nunge, R., Fazle, T., Robinson, P., Biggs, E. [Improving Conditions for Incarcerated Individuals]. Resolution (22-072) [2022 ISMA Annual Convention]. September, 2022. Adopted as Amended, ISMA (-MSS) Resolution- [2022]. Accessible from:
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