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Drug Sales Boom in Wisconsin Prisons

One of every eight adult and juveniles in Wisconsin's prisons or reform schools are receiving psychotropic drugs for a mental disorder. According to Sharon Zunker, director of Wisconsin's Department of Corrections Bureau of Health Services, the cost of psychotropic drug treatment has grown from about $58,000 in 1987 to $110,000 in 1991 and has ballooned to $991,044 in 1995.

"There are a lot more mental health conditions than years ago," Zunker said. "You've got a lot more psychotropic medication possibilities than you did years ago."

Overall, about 12.5 percent, or 1,676, of the 13,406 total population in prisons and reform schools receive drugs for disorders ranging from depression to attention deficit disorder. About 140 of 648 adult females, or about 22 percent, and 22 of 109 female juveniles, or about 20 percent, are treated with psychotropics.

State lawmakers said it is the state's duty to provide necessary treatment, no matter what the cost. Rep. Judith Robson (D-Beloit), a registered nurse, said, "If we're ever going to get a handle on aggressive behavior, we have to invest the dollars."

One can hardly help but wonder, however, if or how major pharmaceutical company sales representatives fit into the overall Wisconsin DOC to treatment scheme. The numbers seem incredibly high. It is especially difficult to believe that state prisoners have exhibited a nearly nine-fold increase in "mental disorders" suggested by the increased DOC spending on pyschotropic drugs since 1991.

Corrections Digest

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