Prisons tackle inmate mental health at seminar

Tian Shengjie
Treatment and rehabilitation of prisoners suffering from mental disorders has become the focus of a recent seminar, focusing on solutions and methods for better patient healthcare.
Tian Shengjie

Treatment and rehabilitation of prisoners suffering from mental disorders, by national prisons, was one of the highlights during a seminar about correctional work focused on old, sick and disabled inmates, on Thursday.

Seven papers stood out from over 80 papers received this year, with researchers sharing findings during the meeting at Shanghai's Nanhui Prison, hosted by the Shanghai Prison Association.

It has been held almost every year since 2009 and gathered over 100 Chinese prison officers, experts and medical workers this year.

Chinese criminal law says that if people with mental illness are symptom-free during the crime, they should be imprisoned or punished.

Sun Bin, deputy warden of Panxi Prison in Sichuan Prison, shared that they have implemented special rehabilitation methods for these offenders since 2021, with safer places and emergency measures for their intermittent illness.

He also suggested developing special assessment and reward mechanisms for these criminals according to their mental health conditions.

Li Lingyuan, an official from Mingkang Prison in Guangdong Province, introduced their artistic treatment achievement for such prisoners through research on about 1,500 inmates.

"Mental health is a keyword for the 21st century all over the world. The number of criminals with mental disorders is also increasing in China in recent years. Treatment and rehabilitation for them should be paid attention to," said Sun Lijuan, deputy secretary general of the local prison association.

As a guest who has participated in 13 consecutive such seminars, Sun found that the focus of education and rehabilitation for old, sick and disabled prisoners has shifted from macro management to refined and targeted projects.

The issues about basic medical care for prisoners were also discussed at the meeting, aiming to protect their rights to life and health.

"The inmates' bodies are imprisoned but their legal interests are not restricted," said Shen Yunfeng, a police officer from Qiaosi Prison in Zhejiang Province.

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