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Confidentiality - Privacy - Right to Treatment - Right to Refuse (From Mental Health for the Convicted Offender Patient and Prisoner, P 125-147, 1977 - See NCJ-72844)

NCJ Number
C Smith; S L Brodsky; R L Sadoff; E I Megargee
Date Published
23 pages
Issues related to confidentiality, privacy, and the right to have or refuse treatment are discussed with reference to mental health services for offenders and inmates.
Confidentiality and privacy should have high priority in therapeutic relationships with inmates. However, certain matters, such as threats, to the life of another inmate, which cannot be kept confidential by the therapist should be made known to the client prior to therapy. The client should be certain that what is shared with the therapist will not be revealed to others except under terms explained by the therapist. Because clients have the right of access to their confidential records, therapists should only include in written records what they do not mind the client seeing. At the very least, offenders and inmates have the right to expect that the level of mental health existing at the time of conviction will not be damaged by the correctional experience. Although mental health services should not be forced on offenders who do not desire treatment, treatment should be of such a high quality that those who choose it have a right to expect benefits from it. The issue of privacy regarding classification testing and evaluation has not been seriously confronted. Privacy rights would seem to dictate offender choice in such matters. Also, where treatment programs are being evaluated by using control groups, the question must be asked whether the control subjects are being denied the right to the treatment received by the experimental subjects. Excerpts from the workshop discussion of these issues are provided.