Convicted criminals who suffer from mental illnesses have often been forced to serve their sentences in prisons since there are not enough slots for them at psychiatric wards. Only seven slots are available, but according to the Ministry of Health, 20 are required.
“It appears that this information was just swept under the carpet at the Ministry of Health,” chairman of Gedhjálp, an organized interest group for the mentally ill, Sveinn Magnússon told Fréttabladid.
The report in question recommends that slots for mentally ill prisoners at the psychiatric hospital ward in Sogn be increased to 20 because “it has been timely for a long time to improve and enlarge [the facility],” the report reads.
The report further states that Sogn has been overcrowded, that eight or nine patients have been admitted to the hospital although there is only room for seven and thus there is no room for cases of emergency.
Director of the State Prison Administration Páll Winkel said it happens often that prisoners who have mental problems do not receive the help they need. “It is very important that prison authorities have easy access to slots for convicts who are so ill that they cannot be kept in regular prisons.”
Minister of Health Gudlaugur Thór Thórdarson agrees. “This is one of the projects within the healthcare service that requires a fast-track solution for lack of facilities.”