Prisons House 750 Mentally-Unstable Inmates

Prisons House 750 Mentally-Unstable Inmates

The 235 prison facilities in Nigeria currently hold 750 mentally-ill inmates, many of who often attempt to physically harm themselves or commit suicide.

Findings indicated that the mentally- sick inmates are often placed under sedation to keep them under control.

Out of the 750 inmates with mental disorder, 250 are psychotic- a loss of contact with reality that usually includes false beliefs about what is taking place and seeing or hearing things that are not there (hallucination).

Five hundred are said to be neurotic-a functional disorder in which feelings of anxiety, obsessional thoughts, compulsive acts, and physical complaints without objective evidence of disease, dominate the personality.

Sources told our correspondent that the mentally-ill inmates were mostly kept in isolation to ensure the safety of other inmates.

“To keep the mentally sick inmates in a good frame of mind for proper prison environment conduct, we need expensive drugs and psychotherapy, but our annual budget is insufficient to buy all the drugs they need to sustain their upkeep and the demands that other inmates place on us,” a senior prison official said.

It was gathered that some of the mentally-ill inmates who are being kept in Kuje, Kirikiri, Calabar and other prisons,  were identified as being ‘criminally insane’ because they were believed to be mentally impaired at the time of commission of crime and might not know the gravity of their crime.

Our correspondent learnt that the inmates exhibit serious symptoms of insomnia (sleeplessness), aggression, tension, and psychosomatic complaints.  Others include crying spells, suicidal attempts, hallucinations, self-harming attempts, low mood and insecurity.

Some conditions such as depression and bipolar disorders, experienced by such inmates are said to be chronic and cannot be cured but could be managed.

The Assistant Controller-General in charge of hospital service, Mrs. Ikemjika Nwosu, said the Nigeria Prison Service expended a lot of effort and money to keep the inmates safe and secure and prevent them from harming themselves and others.

According to her, the service has evolved strategies to keep the mentally-ill inmates in good physical and mental condition by ensuring that they have access to medical care.

“Like other inmates under our care, we take good care of the mentally-ill inmates by ensuring their welfare and giving them access to quality medical care,” Nwosu added.

Asked if the families of the mentally-ill inmates come for them after their sentences, the NPS Public Relations Officer, Kayode Odeyemi, explained that their families come for them. She added that the prison management had the contacts of the family members and ensures that they did not abandon the convicts after being discharged from prison.


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