How technology can improve inmate mental health while reducing recidivism
Free educational videos provide inmates with access to vital self-improvement tools
As of 2020, the United States has about 1.8 million people incarcerated in its correctional institutions, and a vast number of them have mental health issues.
According to the Bureau of Statistics (2005), about 56% of state prisoners, 45% of federal prisoners and 64% of jailed inmates suffer from a mental illness. However, less than a quarter of these individuals receive treatment during incarceration. Those that do typically re-offend less after release, leading to lower levels of recidivism.
As a supplier of secure/approved correctional communications devices, including ruggedized tablets provided free to prisoners, GTL is uniquely connected to the nation’s prison population. The company is using this connection to provide free professionally prepared educational/self-improvement videos to inmates and corrections officers, including anger management courses presented by Dr. Christian Conte. He is the originator of "Yield Theory," which is founded on meeting people where they are and understanding their choices without judgment.
“What I think is phenomenal about the GTL partnership is this: I have a message that appears to resonate both with those working in corrections and those going through the system,” said Dr. Conte. “For incarcerated individuals, we need to provide them with the opportunity for personal growth. For correctional officers, we need to give them the tools to help them better understand and connect with the individuals in their care.”
A range of support programs on video
A corrections population is the very definition of a “captive audience,” be they inmates or the officers who supervise them. This is why free self-improvement educational videos delivered to ruggedized tablets are so well received in these settings.
These videos empower inmates and officers alike by showing them how to take charge of their emotional and intellectual growth, and by giving them tools to pursue success in all aspects of their lives. This kind of engagement helps to promote social calm at correctional institutions, by giving inmates better tools for coping and enhanced hope for a better life after release.
Dr. Conte’s anger management videos help inmates develop the insight and self-awareness to better control their feelings and how they express them to others. These changes benefit both inmates and correctional officers, plus family, friends and the public when these inmates re-enter civilian life.
“I teach people how to deal with their feelings of impotence and rage, and how they can use accurately balanced language to really deal with these emotions,” said Dr. Conte.
“Let's say there's a person who's incarcerated, who's impulsive and lashing out the officers. Why would you not want him to learn more impulse control that could make everyone’s days safer?” (As of 2021, every single individual who gets incarcerated in Pennsylvania must go through Yield Theory training.)
Mindful that inmates have a range of mental health issues that they are dealing with, GTL is offering a full range of free self-improvement videos to correctional institutions. These include an Art Therapy app created by board-certified art therapist Pamela Malkoff Hayes. This app is designed to help users reduce their feelings of anger, anxiety, disappointment and frustration while refining their communications skills. The “Breaking Free from Substance Abuse” digital program aids inmates in achieving and maintaining recovery from dependence on over 70 different substances.
Free access encourages program participation
GTL’s suite of technology solutions is provided at no cost to the institutions that deploy them. Although items such as inmate phone calls, messaging and access to approved entertainment videos have charges attached to their use, the educational videos prepared by Dr. Conte and others are free to view. Free access encourages inmates to give these videos a try, even if they aren’t usually inclined to do so. Once they start viewing this educational content, many inmates stick with it and start remolding themselves for the better.