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Women’s Health in Correctional Settings: Addressing the Crucial Issues Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 21st, 2022

Introduction: Women’s Health in Prison

Pink glasses aide, the correctional setting for women provides very little opportunities for remaining in good health over the course of serving time. Though female prisoners have been sentenced for a reason, they are still eligible for free healthcare services as the latter is a basic human right, yet they are consistently deprived of the required treatment. The incorporation of a set of more rigid health and ethical standards may serve as the premise for improving the current situation.

Overview: The Factors That Define Health Rates

Reports show that the current strategies in the designated area are aimed at punishing criminals as opposed to correcting their behavior (Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia, 2016). As a result, there is an obvious lack of concern for the health issues that prisoners may have, which results in the development of mental issues and reproductive health needs (Berg, Plugge, & Aguirre, 2014, p. 159).

History of the Problem

Studies show that the problem has been brewing for quite a long (Washburn et al., 2015). The issue regarding the abuse of female prisoners’ rights for healthcare and nursing services is not new and has been on the agenda several times. However, to date, no efficient nursing strategy or, for that matter, the means of managing the problem in the penal system, has been suggested.

Current Literature Review

Based on recent studies, the problem to be addressed is two-sided. On the one hand, there is a system that does not allow for providing female prisoners with the services that they need. As a consequence, the target population contracts diseases and develops disorders, including both physiological and mental ones. As the WHO report says, women develop more complicated mental issues while being in jail compared to men. Moreover, STD diseases, such as Hepatitis C and HIV, as well as reproductive system disorders and pregnancy issues, need to be brought up as the reason for concern (Berg et al., 2014)

On the other hand, the lack of basic health literacy among the designated audience is shocking. The absence of awareness concerning the basic gender-related health needs triggers an immediate increase in the number of diseases and often deaths (Donelle, Rempel, & Hall, 2016). For instance, a recent report shows that 2.6% of female inmates are HIV-positive; 73% of them suffer from mental disorders, 80% of which are regularly sexually abused (with 57% of sexually abused prisoners in the female penal system in general), and 40% of them abuse drugs, thus, being in a need for an efficient drug rehabilitation program (Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia, 2016).

Unfortunately, in spite of the reports published by WHO on an annual basis and mentioning the subject matter, very little attention is paid to the subject matter. There is a strong tendency for overlooking the rights of female prisoners for receiving healthcare services (Tasca, Wright, Turanovic, White, & Rodriguez, 2016). At the same time, the idea concerning the rehabilitation of prisoners instead of merely punishing them is being raised in media (Washburn et al., 2015).

Role of the Nurse: Promoting a Change

In the designated setting, a nurse is supposed to act primarily as the change agent. Naturally, shifting the focus of the current penal system from punishment to rehabilitation requires the efforts of legal experts rather than nursing ones. However, as a leader, a nurse is still capable of administering changes such as the incorporation of the Gender-Sensitive System in the target setting (Tasca et al., 2016).

Recommendations: Focus on Gender-Sensitive System

The Gender-Sensitive framework mentioned above is likely to allow for a tighter focus on the needs of women in prison. For instance, it will allow for addressing the PTSD issues, which are typically glanced over, locate the link between the mental/physical state of the prisoner and her criminal pathways, provide assistance with drug issues, address possible STD concerns, tend to the needs of the victims of in-prison sexual/physical violence, etc.

As it has been stressed above, to prompt changes in the target environment, one will also have to redesign the current concept of social justice, which promotes the idea of penalizing criminals as opposed to helping them rehabilitate. It is advisable to use Kotter’s eight-step change model for the identified purpose as it will help change the vision, rearrange the processes, and measure the outcomes efficiently (Curry et al., 2015). The introduction of the framework under analysis into the target environment can be carried out with the help of a proper leadership strategy and a solid ethical framework to serve as the foundation for the decision-making process.

Conclusion: Time to Make Changes

Although the environment of the female penitentiary system is hardly conducive to positive changes due to the current dents in the legal and social justice systems, addressing health issues is crucial to safeguard the basic human rights of prisoners. Female penitentiaries should be the current focus of nursing experts as the environment thereof is a breeding ground for mental and physical disorders, as well as a variety of diseases. It is strongly suggested that Kotter’s eight-step framework for change should be introduced into the identified environment. Thus, it is the task of a nurse to adopt the role of a leader and a change agent to redesign the current female prison environment and promote the idea of improving the health status of the target demographic.

Reference List

Berg, B. von der, Plugge, E., & Aguirre, I, Y. (2014). Prisons and health. In Prisons and heath (pp. 159-164). Geneva: World Health Organization.

Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia. (2016). Statistics on women offenders-2015. Web.

Curry, L. A., Linnander, E. L., Brewster, A. L., Ting, H., Krumholz, H. M., & Bradley, E. H. (2015). Organizational culture change in U.S. hospitals: A mixed-methods longitudinal intervention study. Implementation Science, 10(1), 29-39. Web.

Donelle, L., Rempel, E., & Hall, J. (2016). An assessment of Canadian criminalized women’s health information preferences and health literacy skills. Universal Journal of Public Health 4(1): 16-22. Web.

Tasca, M., Wright, K. A., Turanovic, J. J., White, C., & Rodriguez, N. (2016). Moving visitation research forward: The Arizona Prison Visitation Project. Criminology, Criminal Justice Law, & Society, 17(1), 35-67.

Washburn, J. J., Teplin, L. A., Voss, L. S., Simon, C. D., Abram, K. M., McClelland, G. M., & Olson, N. D. (2015). Detained youth processed in juvenile and adult court: Psychiatric disorders and mental health needs. Web.

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IvyPanda. "Women's Health in Correctional Settings: Addressing the Crucial Issues." September 21, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-health-in-correctional-settings-addressing-the-crucial-issues/.

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IvyPanda. 2022. "Women's Health in Correctional Settings: Addressing the Crucial Issues." September 21, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/womens-health-in-correctional-settings-addressing-the-crucial-issues/.

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IvyPanda. (2022) 'Women's Health in Correctional Settings: Addressing the Crucial Issues'. 21 September.

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