The significance of correctional staff cannot be denied as they diagnose and treat incarcerated individuals regarding all aspects of their well-being and care. Prisoners need to be linked to the community on their release. Before and after the release process, it is important to identify the health issues and plan treatments accordingly. The role of nursing encompasses all these requirements and set the settings in place to prepare individuals to seek proper medication and health care after their release in a line of continued care mission.
Nurses overcome the barrier of communication between prisoners and society by discussing with the prisoner the disease they are suffering or might suffer in the future. Thus, education and counseling of a prisoner are achieved in a good manner. Depending on the nature of the treatment, they can refer the prisoners to social services like AA or NA. In conclusion, nursing for prisoners aims to link the prisoner with resources by maintaining good communication and providing continuing care after release.
According to a study done in 1994 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 67% of ex-prisoners in the U.S. have been punished again within three years after their release. At the same time frame, another study by the Department of Psychiatry of Hahnemann University in Philadelphia found that 32% of 105 clients were re-incarcerated within six months after their release.
The primary reason why these individuals failed to reintegrate into society was the absence of relevant health care during discharge planning. Based on these quantitative numbers, the correctional nurses’ role can help in reducing the increased recidivism.
A study has reviewed how the work description of nurses treating offenders varies with that of a nurse practicing in an ideal clinical setting. The difference can be clearly assessed as a high differential involving security and societal impacts.
A qualitative study about psychiatric nurses’ suggests that nurses dealing with offenders have to adapt to a less ideal working environment where they have limited control over types of patients. Thus, it challenges their personal safety, confined treatment, a difference in correction staff’s moral values, and the social pressure of dealing with offenders.
Peternelj Taylor and Simpson identify the role of a nurse as a challenge covering the tension between caring service and security. Maeve shares the same belief that nurses providing continuing treatment services to offenders pose significant challenges.
Norman and Parish proposed the role as a multidimensional role involving the assessment of the physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and special dimensions of the prisoner client in custodial care. It needs counseling, clinical decision-making, and collaborative efforts for advocacy, and rehabilitation.
A study of HIV was conducted in 2001 in 10 states to examine the discharge planning policies and practices offered to inmates including 96 respondents. The study outlines policy, organizational and operational issues, and successful strategies. Data was gathered through various surveys and in-depth telephonic interviews.
It was concluded at International Aids Conference that the prison systems offered required discharge planning services to HIV-infected inmates, but the scope and availability of services were limited. The study recommended that collaboration efforts should be taken by correction personnel and strategy should define the facilitation of continual medical and social services for inmates in transition.