Morehouse School of Medicine to Assess Mental Health of Prison Inmates Prior to Their Release

Historically Black Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta is participting in a new initiative established by Fani Willis, district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, to help prison inmates transition to life outside, so they do not end up back behind bars. This is yet another program to say, ‘Hey, we want to release you early from prison, we want to restore you,’” Willis said. “’We want you to be a productive member of society, but we realize you have some struggles.’”

The Prison Policy Initiative says more than 40 percent of people in prisons have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

“What we’ve talked about is having a comprehensive mental health evaluation while they’re still incarcerated,” said Sarah Vinson, chair of psychiatry and behavioral science at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Willis said this is about getting services to those who need it and making sure they have support once they get out of prison. “We do think this is a very unique program and that it is a great way to restore some faith in the justice system, some faith in the medical profession,” she said. “To really put health services around people. I am tired of seeing that we are using our prisons and our jail systems as mental health wards.”

The program is made possible by a federal grant, and it hopes to help at least 120 people in the next year and a half.

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