edited by Charles L. Scott, M.D., and Joan B. Gerbasi, J.D., M.D.; Arlington, Virginia, American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., 2005, 340 pages, $54
Ms. Vuotto is a forensic psychiatrist at the Anne Klein Forensic Center, Special Treatment Unit, Avenel, New Jersey.
Mental health providers face significant challenges in providing care to underserved and misunderstood patient populations. Populations in correctional settings present particular challenges.
Handbook of Correctional Mental Health is the collaborative effort of experts in the fields of mental health and the law. Thought provoking and intellectually stimulating, this text is a guide to professionals at any level of expertise who are interested in correctional mental health. The opening chapters explain the language used in correctional mental health—such as distinctions between jails and prisons and between misdemeanor crimes and felony crimes—as well as the theories of punishment and inmate classification.
The book has a smooth transition from definitions and theories of correctional mental health to the psychosocial dynamics encountered within the correctional culture. Ken L. Appelbaum thoroughly explores the practice of psychiatry within such a culture. The authors provide a detailed review of mental health assessment, screening, and referral. In this section the authors also explore the use of unaided clinical violence risk assessment, actuarial violence risk assessment instruments, and risk assessments based on professional judgment.
Individual chapters on suicide, psychopharmacology, and malingering in correctional facilities help identify key points pertinent to successful treatment outcomes in the correctional environment. The book covers therapeutic interventions, such as dialectical behavior therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, group therapy, and recreational therapy. The authors provide tables organizing the group therapies and desired treatment outcomes to assist the reader in developing a solid understanding of such interventions.
This clinical guide has a section on special populations of inmates, such as female offenders and those with developmental disabilities. This section offers a solid understanding of clinical and political atmospheres surrounding the delivery of mental health care to such special populations.
Maximum and super-maximum security settings for people with mental illnesses are introduced in a delicate manner. The authors discuss the harsh realities found in such settings while encouraging the reader with hope that further correctional reform will continue so that safety and security can be ensured in a more humane fashion.
The penultimate chapter offers an understanding to outpatient management of offenders. The authors explain mental health courts, court ordered medication management, and management of insanity acquittees within the community. The final chapter reviews the legal aspects of correctional mental health and is a perfect ending to this clinical guide. Constitutional rights surrounding mental health treatment and prevention are discussed under specific topics such as right to treatment, confidentiality, and right to refuse treatment.
As an educational tool this is an excellent clinical guide. The book has chapters that end with highlighted key points, discussion of relevant landmark cases, as well as tables and clinical case vignettes that assist the reader in achieving a richer and fuller understanding of important issues.