Trapped without hope: The hidden mental health crisis in women’s prisons

Female prison officer (large)source: Broadly
published: 14 October 2016

From self-harming in groups to starvation and self-immolation, women are overwhelmingly more likely than men to hurt themselves while incarcerated. So why isn’t the prison system responding?

Marria, 29, is a disability rights activist who uses a wheelchair. She also has borderline personality disorder and a history of self-harm. In 2013, she was convicted of an antisocial behavior charge, and sentenced to time in prison.

“I was in Holloway for ten months,” she said. “I went through lots of self-harm episodes there, including setting myself on fire and trying to hang myself.”

Penny Bennett, a charity caseworker who supported her, said Maria frequently used a dressing gown robe or socks to form a ligature, which she left hanging around her neck. Prison staff took it off her initially, before realizing that she was not tightening it. Maria said just having it there made her feel better.

Although her mental health was bad when she was sentenced, Maria believes prison made it much worse. “When I came out, I just couldn’t cope at all,” she said. “I was constantly, for maybe a year, being sectioned by police everyday. I was overdosing, cutting, throwing myself under trains. I just think [prison] really messes your head up.”

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About Zinzi Eka-Naphtali

Zinzi Eka-Naphtali has been a volunteer with 4WardEver UK since 2007/2008. She assists with researching information and submitting them for inclusion on the website, and manages other on-line resources developed by 4WardEver and its associate organisations. 4WardEver UK was launched in 2006 by Tippa Naphtali the cousin of Mikey Powell, who died in the custody of West Midlands police, Birmingham, UK in September 2003.

Posted on 23/10/2016, in In The News, Prison Abuse. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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