24 Sep 2009

Mental illness rate among inmates 'inexcusably high'

12:52 pm on 24 September 2009

A former head of the prison service says the number of people with mental health problems in prison is inexcusably high.

Kim Workman, director of the penal reform group Rethinking Crime and Punishment, says between 15% and 20% of prisoners have serious diagnosable mental health issues, are often highly medicated and have no treatment regime to speak of.

He says jails have become the default institution for the mentally ill, which is an indictment on the country's health system.

The Corrections Department says both the health sector and the prison sector are facing serious resource issues and are doing the best they can.