Vulnerable Populations: Incarcerated Women

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Incarcerated Women

One major vulnerable population group in society is incarcerated women. Several reasons lead to their imprisonment, including drug trafficking, theft, and violence. Prisons serve to curb this type of crimes and ensure that guilty individuals reform positively to return to the normal functioning in society. However, although the goal is positive, the introduction of prisons brings numerous psychological problems to prisoners, especially women (Raphael & Stoll, 2013). They face many challenges, including mental health issues, but at the same time, they do not receive culturally competent care from health professionals. Consequently, their health deteriorates while they are in jail and even after imprisonment, which is not right. As such, the health conditions of incarcerated women should be improved through proper strategies such as ensuring that the help they receive from health practitioners is culturally competent and that they have their psychological needs covered.

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Reasons for Selecting This Particular Group

There are several reasons why the group of incarcerated women has been chosen for this research. First, the number of women in jails has been on the increase in recent years (Coyle, Heard, & Fair, 2016). If there is no sufficient attention to this issue, with the growing number of prisoners, the number of women facing health challenges will also increase. Thus, a research focusing on this group will help in many ways, including assisting health practitioners in the understanding of how to offer more competent care to imprisoned women population. Another reason for choosing this group is the fact that focusing on it would attract attention of the community to the problems incarcerated women face. With this knowledge, it is expected that many people can change their behavior positively to avoid suffering from similar issues.


Many women have been imprisoned in different prisons across the world. In their research, Coyle et al. (2016) give the total number of 700,000 incarcerated women. The authors also indicate that United States has the highest number of prisoners, representing around 30% of the total inmates in the world (Coyle et al., 2016). Moreover, more than 60% of them have health problems (Raphael & Stoll, 2013). Some common types of illness affecting them include severe psychological disorders. The situation has continued to worsen due to various issues such as the overcrowding in different facilities and lack of reliable healthcare. Therefore, there is a need for all relevant stakeholders, including the authorities and medical practitioners, to look at this particular group of women.

Although many inmates face various health challenges, only some of them receive the required healthcare services. In many instances, they suffer from diseases, especially mental illnesses, without much help from relevant bodies that have been charged with the responsibility of ensuring their safety. Moreover, Fazel, Hayes, Bartellas, Clerici, and Trestman (2016) claim that people are aware of large number of illness cases in prisons, but substantial evidence shows that most of such cases remain unattended. Since one of the main aims of imprisoning people is to make them reform, letting them suffer from curable diseases is unacceptable. Therefore, proper strategies aimed at improving the situation and ensuring that female inmates receive adequate healthcare should be introduced.

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The Impact of Incarceration on Women’s Health

Ensuring proper health for any population is not an easy task since it requires proper planning and programs, including insurance coverage by the government. However, the issue of imprisoned women’s health is even more serious as prisoners are at a higher risk of falling ill. At the same time, female prisoners have special needs that are different from male ones (Fazel et al., 2016). Therefore, they require more attention and focus by relevant authorities. As pointed earlier, the majority of them suffer from psychological disorders. Consequently, many of them might easily harm themselves in suicide attempts. Therefore, to improve women’s health in general, close attention should be given to such a vulnerable group of the population as imprisoned women.

An Analysis of Incarcerated Women’s Psychological Needs

The Need for Connection and Care

One significant need of imprisoned women is the need for connection and love. Any human being needs to feel connection and care from family members and friends since these aspects ensure their health. According to Christensen (2014), many incarcerated women suffer mentally due to lack of a good relationship with their partners and family friends. The situation worsens when they start serving long jail terms. Once they are imprisoned, their family members and friends rarely visit them. Thus, the time they spend with their loved ones is insufficient. In the long run, they lose the much-needed connection and love from people they love.

The Need to Increase Their Knowledge and Wealth

Female prisoners need to grow in terms of knowledge and wealth. Such a growth ensures self-satisfaction since it is a way of achieving one’s goals in life. The satisfaction boosts one’s health and minimizes the risks of suffering from various illnesses. However, as Christensen (2014) notes, one can hardly achieve growth in terms of knowledge and wealth while in prison. In this case, once people are jailed, they cannot grow financially since they do not have a chance to participate in income-generating activities. Regarding gaining more knowledge, even if there are programs to educate prisoners, they are not adequate and they can hardly be compared to those outside the prison. Thus, in the long run, most incarcerated women suffer psychologically due to lack of knowledge and their inability to grow financially.

The Need for Certainty in Life

Incarcerated women need certainty in their lives. This notion refers to the comfort of one safe, both physically and emotionally. However, most women prisoners are not sure of their physical and emotional safety. For instance, if a prisoner was in a relationship, she cannot be sure that her partner would remain royal during her time behind bars. At the same time, prison is not the place that can guarantee security. Many women are harassed by prison wardens as well as their fellow inmates (Coyle et al., 2016). As such, women’s mental and physical safety is not assured, which leads to the development of psychological issues.

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Issues Impacting Culturally Competent Care Delivery to Incarcerated Women

Inmates’ Background and Identity

One major issue impacting culturally competent healthcare delivery is inmates’ background and identity. In any prison, inmates come from various social backgrounds. The fact that prisoners are transferred regularly to various locations without considering their background leads to such a situation. However, the nursing profession ought to be well acquainted with the patient’s culture and background in order to offer the best services. Thus, in the case of women prisoners, it is difficult to find health practitioners who can relate with them and understand their history since they come from different cultural backgrounds (Coyle et al., 2016). Therefore, due to the cultural difference between inmates and health practitioners, the delivery of culturally competent services is quite challenging.

The Fact that Imprisoned Women Are Wrongdoers

Inmates are wrongdoers who are punished for committing a particular crim. As such, in a cultural context, nothing good ought to be done for them. Instead, they need to be punished severely. However, for healthcare professionals, doing good and showing care to the patient is critical. In this context, many healthcare practitioners are faced with a significant problem of working in a place that is primarily planned to punish individuals (Christensen, 2014). Even though practitioners perform their duty, many people view it as a way of helping wrongdoers, which generally contradicts societal standards. Therefore, practitioners might simply decide to neglect their obligation of showing care to prisoners, thereby offering low-quality services.

Culturally and Ethically Competent Care Methods the Nurse Practitioner Will Employ in Caring for Incarcerated Women

Understanding the Patient’s Cultural Background

One method that a nursing practitioner can utilize to offer culturally competent care to a female prisoner is the understanding of her background. This strategy can be challenging due to various aspects, including the fact that one practitioner is tasked with role of helping many inmates. However, with an aim of offering culturally competent care, nursing practitioners can always try to understand every inmate’s background early in the treatment process. Thus, progress can be achieved by establishing a close relationship with the patient and showing to her some interest in her culture. In such a way, patients can readily disclose critical information regarding their lives and beliefs, which can ultimately help the health practitioner develop and offer culturally competent care.

Practicing Adjustable Care

As noted earlier, inmates come from diverse cultural backgrounds. For this reason, virtually every inmate needs a special and unique healthcare service for it to be termed as a culturally competent one. In this case, health practitioners can succeed in offering such a care to female inmates if they embrace adjustable practice. By adopting this type of practice, the nurse will be in a position to provide unique and necessary attention to every patient. This method can be acquired through the nurse’s desire to learn about different cultures and interact with people from diverse backgrounds. With such an experience, the nurse will not find it challenging to understand each patient’s lifestyle, which will put them in a position to offer culturally competent healthcare to female inmates.


The health conditions of incarcerated women should be improved through proper strategies to ensure that they receive culturally competent healthcare. Statistics shows that the majority of incarcerated women suffer from some psychological problems at one point in their lives. This fact can be attributed to the different psychological needs that these women have, including the need for a connection with their loved ones and being of significant in society. As such, health practitioners are tasked with a great role of caring for this group of women. However, this work is quite challenging due to such aspects as the cultural diversity of the inmates and their bad status in society. Nonetheless, health practitioners can still deliver culturally competent care for this group by utilizing such effective methods as the learning the background of their patients and adopting adjustable practices.

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