The internship serves a correctional population of males and females, ages 18 to 65+. Approximately 40% of male persons in our care have a mental health condition. Of those, about 7% have a severe and persistent mental illness. About 89% of female persons in our care have a mental health condition, with approximately 35% having a severe and persistent mental illness. Individuals with mental health disorders are also assessed and treated in Community Corrections, which is a rotation that is available in all three hubs.
Currently, about 94% of offenders supervised by the Department of Corrections are male and about half of that number are from minority groups (African American, Hispanic, Asian or Pacific Islander, and Native American/Alaskan Native). Less than 20 percent reside in correctional facilities, with the remainder living in their home communities on probation or parole/extended-supervision status. Interns do a significant amount of their clinical work with minority group offenders and offenders who represent a wide range of ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic diversity. An understanding of and respect for this cultural diversity is essential.
The offender population reflects the entire range of psychological pathology. Diagnoses include acute and chronic cognitive, emotional, and personality disorders and adjustment reactions. Alcohol and drug addictions are common, as are a variety of sexual psychopathologies. Approximately 25% have an active conviction for a sexual offense. Violent victimization of others, domestic violence, sexual offending, and sequelae of their own childhood victimization are frequent treatment issues. In addition to these problems, many offenders experience emotional or behavioral crises related to incarceration and concomitant separation from family and friends, or problems inherent in release to the community (e.g., lack of job-seeking skills, fear of responsibility, marital stress, and unresolved substance or other addictions).
Special housing units exist for mentally ill offenders who are unable to function in general population and for some high-risk sex offenders. For example, a Special Management Unit (SMU) at one maximum-security institution houses more than 100 mentally ill offenders in an inpatient-type setting. Another 100 bed special unit at a medium security institution exists for high risk sex offenders participating in an intensive two-year residential treatment program. Other institutions provide residential programs for offenders who are dually-diagnosed with both a severe mental illness and one or more substance use disorders. An affiliated psychiatric treatment facility, the Wisconsin Resource Center (WRC), is staffed by the Department of Health Services (DHS) to provide treatment for acutely mentally ill offenders. Opportunities exist for training and/or experience with specilized treatment modalities such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model (TREM), and Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT). There also is specialized training available in sexual offender risk assessment and treatment.