Analysis of Mentally Retarded and Lower-Functioning Offender Correctional Programs

By Nichols, Mark; Bench, Lawrence L. et al. | Corrections Today, April 2003 | Go to article overview

Analysis of Mentally Retarded and Lower-Functioning Offender Correctional Programs


Nichols, Mark, Bench, Lawrence L., Morlok, Erica, Liston, Karen, Corrections Today


The prison society can be viewed as a collection of subgroups, each having its own unique characteristics, needs and problems. Two subgroups that are often overlooked are offenders designated as lower functioning and mentally retarded. In order to fully understand the needs and characteristics of this population, the Utah Department of Corrections conducted a national survey of program characteristics for lower-functioning and mentally retarded offenders.

While lower-functioning offenders exist in virtually every prison in the country, they are frequently subsumed under other labels such as mentally retarded and mentally ill. Although the distinguishing characteristics between these groups are subtle, each group has its own unique programming and treatment needs.

The term lower functioning is applied to individuals who have fewer intellectual abilities compared with the general population and have IQs that approach 70, but they are not technically retarded. Notably different from peers with higher IQs, lower functioning implies diminished intellectual abilities but does not warrant a diagnosis of mental retardation. According to the American Association on Mental Retardation, the diagnosis of mental retardation should be applied only to individuals who have IQs below 70 and are deficient in two or more adaptive skills. Additionally, both of these conditions must be met before the individual turns 18. Unfortunately, many correctional facilities mistakenly classify individuals solely on the basis of IQ.

Distinguishing Characteristics

The term mentally ill is often confused with mental retardation but an important distinction exists. Those who are mentally ill suffer from brain dysfunctions that include disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, which are often treatable with medication such as Prozac and Clozarill. Unlike mental illness, retardation is not treatable with medication, but those who have this condition can learn skills and coping mechanisms that allow them to lead more satisfactory lives.

Mentally retarded and lower-functioning offenders often are grouped with mentally ill inmates for treatment and therapy. This may be preferable to placing them in the general inmate population, but research shows that a significant number of these inmates could benefit from programming oriented specifically to their needs and abilities. Earlier studies on prevalence rates indicated that approximately 9 percent of offenders suffered from mental retardation. However, more recent studies place the percentage of offenders who are mentally retarded between 1 percent and 4 percent. (1)

Recent litigation has determined the rights of mentally retarded offenders to be different from those of other offenders. On June 20, 2002, in Atkins v. Virginia, the Supreme Court ruled that mentally retarded inmates cannot be given the death penalty. The 1981 case of Green v. Johnson established that inmates younger than 22 have the right to receive special education if they are mentally retarded. In addition, the Americans With Disabilities Act requires all correctional agencies to set up procedures to screen for mentally retarded offenders and to initiate rehabilitation programs specifically for them.

Literature Review

Previous studies underscore the need to supervise lower-functioning offenders in a special manner. These offenders tend to be slower in a number of regards compared with the general inmate population. A study conducted by researcher Mary Ann Finn shows that mentally retarded offenders have more difficulty adjusting to the prison system, and that they adjust more slowly than the rest of the inmate population. (2) In fact, because they are slower, the Texas Council on Crime and Delinquency has determined that they are not fit for involvement in normal prison operations such as job-training classes. These offenders are capable of learning important skills and are able to hold a job, according to the National Institute of Corrections, but more time is necessary to acquire the appropriate skills. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Analysis of Mentally Retarded and Lower-Functioning Offender Correctional Programs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.