Michigan Prisons Face Inadequacies in Mental Health Care for Prisoners

Could the incident at Macomb County Jail have been avoided?


Stephen talks with Macomb County Executive and former sheriff Mark Hackel and Dr. Brant Fries, professor of Health Management and Policy at the School of Public Health at University of Michigan, about mental health in Michigan jails. Last week security camera footage surfaced showing the deterioration and death of a 32-year-old inmate going through prescription drug withdrawals in the Macomb County jail. The inmate was in jail for 17 days while serving time for failure to pay traffic fines.


Adequate Services: Hackel believes that while there are problems getting adequate mental health care in jail, Macomb County officers did what they could. “What I take exception to is saying that correctional staff did nothing. That is absolutely not true,” Hackle says.


Prison Care: According to Dr. Fries, 72 percent of men and 54 percent of women do not receive proper mental health care in prison. Dr. Fries continues, referencing a study that says 65 percent of prisoners who need help with mental health problems aren’t receiving it.


Priorities: What could be done is to prioritize the worst cases of mental health in prison. Dr. Fries says, “Every situation will have limited amount of services… you should be at least giving them to the most severe.”


To hear more of the conversation, click the link above.