Trauma in Incarcerated Inmates.

Kayla Antolik

February 24th, 2022

MET CJ 752 O1 Forensic Behavior Analysis.

Blog Post.


For my blog post, I am going to be touching base regarding trauma in incarcerated inmates. One of the important things regarding my training when becoming a Sheriff Technician for the jail was, we are told to have professional and respectful relationships with the inmates. Just because they committed crimes that are unforgivable does not mean they are any less of human. While we may have our own prejudice and implicit bias feelings regarding criminals, we should also know in this field that we are not only serving the public, but also to the inmates as well. From my time here I have spent my first week of training building a relationship with the inmates. I’ve found that respect goes a long way in not getting into it with an inmate if they mouth off, as everything they say should not be taken personally and let it roll off your back. For example, while most Technicians can become frustrated with an inmate’s attitude, if I am still in the wrong and they are calling me all sorts of names. I will continue with my apology if I prematurely turn off the TV’s when locking down, due to still being new and finding out the routine for the housing unit.

Additionally, inmates’ experiences other forms of trauma just like outside from sexual abuse, assaults, fighting with their cell mate. Our institution has what is called a ‘consent decree’ which ensures that inmates are treated humanely from pod time, yard time, additional resources such as classes, counseling, medical treatment, and court assistance. However, there can be situations which an inmate may not be able to participate in, such as if they are out to court, they do not receive recreational time in the pod, and can miss out on being out. So, this can potentially create an issue, as well with video calls/visits for if the visit/call/court appointment goes terribly where it can affect an inmate’s mental health for not being able to go outside after their appointments.

Such as for example, an inmate who comes back from court must be stripped down and are held in a multi-purpose room where all the inmates are able to mingle while being searched. This can create shame, or embarrassment due to being stripped searched in front of others. For an inmate who may have experience sexual assault/abuse in their life this could potentially lead to them being retraumatized or feeling ‘violated’ even though this is for our policies and procedures to ensure safety towards staff and inmates. I think it would be beneficial to at least be more cognizant of the inmates to prevent revictimization for them if there is a more private manner to do searches and that of the same sex. So female, strip searching female, and male strip-searching males.

Classes and programs that we provide to improve recidivism rates and prepare inmates for release. These classes are classes that could provide them with the tools and skills they need in search for work, anger management, counseling services for mental health in healthier ways to cope, or information for behavioral health inmates to utilize and explain what is available to them as they may not know the number of resources at their fingertips.

Other trauma’s that inmates can experience in the jail can be experiencing an overdose and being brought back from Narcan. Experiencing their cell mate committing suicide, or discovery of their cell mate, including overdose deaths. While they may not have experienced the following trauma’s each situation is unique as the criminals can be revictimized from childhood wounds or traumas in the past, to their experiences in the prison system as well. This all comes down to their triggers, how they function as an individual with trauma, coping, and dealing with stress, as each person is unique so something that may not be as traumatic for one person, it doesn’t say others would have a more enhanced emotion as it’s something that triggers them in different ways. Not each situation is the same, but there are a lot of what we can learn from the differences with criminal behavior, and forensic behavior analysis regarding the mentally ill, psychopaths, and criminals.

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  1. Trauma throughout incarceration needs to be addressed as part of rehabilitation. The experiences inmates go through can affect recidivism if not adequately approached and proper resources are not allocated. Unfortunately, many inmates witness violence, brutality, and even death during their time at the facility and risk carrying those traumas into the outside, affecting successful reintegration into society.

  2. Hi Kayla, great post! for my blog post I wrote about the mental health services that take place within correctional facilities. There needs to be more trauma-informed staff who understand the reasoning behind a person’s actions. If you can understand a person’s actions, you can talk them through their trauma response. This all falls under triggers and how incarcerated individuals cope with their trauma. I’ve come to understand, when it comes to incarcerated populations, they do not understand their actions as well. This then causes lots of climate issues within the facility, two wrongs can’t make a right. There needs to be more trauma-informed care to improve and rehabilitate these populations.

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