Psychiatric Quarterly [psaq] ph223-psaq-471523 August 8, 2003 18:7 Style ﬁle version June 4th, 2002
Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol. 75, No. 1, Spring 2004 (
ON THE ROLE OF CORRECTIONAL
OFFICERS IN PRISON MENTAL HEALTH
Joel A. Dvoskin, Ph.D. and Erin M. Spiers, Psy.D.
This article discusses the role of correctional line staff in treatment of prison
inmates with serious mental illness. The authors assert that many roles and
duties traditionally attributed to clinicians can and often should be performed
not only by mental health professionals, but by line staff such as correctional of-
ﬁcers and nurses. Moreover, the optimal climate for effective treatment is one in
which mental health professionals and line staff work collaboratively, especially
since line staff alone are in contact with inmates 24 hours per day. The speciﬁc
activities which comprise mental health treatment in prison are described as: 1)
counseling and psychotherapy—talking with inmates, 2) consultation—talking
about inmates, 3) special housing, activities, and behavioral programs, and 4)
medication. Case examples demonstrate how correctional ofﬁcers, nurses, and
other line staff perform each of these activities. Recognition and nurturance of
these activities will improve the quality of services and reduce stress on staff
Joel A. Dvoskin, Ph.D., is Clinical Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, The
University of Arizona Health Sciences Center, Arizona.
Erin M. Spiers, Psy.D. is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Louisiana State
University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Address correspondence to Joel A. Dvoskin, Ph.D., 3911 E. Ina Road, Tucson, AZ 85718;
2004 Human Sciences Press, Inc.