Kropp et al (1989) found that correctional officers viewed mentally ill offenders far less favourable than other prisoners. More Recent studies have echoed this notion. Because of this, mentally ill offenders/patients are more likely to be victimized during their incarceration and/or commitment. They suffer from neglect, self-injury, stigmas, denial of rights, physical and social isolation and often do not have their complaints when they do ask for help taken seriously (Callahan, 2004). Even with the knowledge we have about the attitudes of correctional officers towards mentally ill populations, correctional officers are being asked to be play an integral role in the treatment of offenders and patients.
The contrasting culture of clinicians trained to work with specialized populations and correctional officers whose culture typically includes regimentation, universally applied rules and punitive sanctions for violations continue to create an environment that not only adds to the stress of officers themselves, but cause mentally ill offenders/patients to deteriorate under the demands placed on them. A review of the literature underscores a need for additional training of not only correctional officers, but all level of care staff; however, a universal set of training guidelines that can be Incorporated into correctional and hospital settings across the country has yet to exist. This presentation will focus on the need for specialized training for officers and level of care staff and present a potential plan of action, to include a training template that may be used to implement training.