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Nursing with Prisoners: The Practice of Caring, Forensic Nursing or Penal Harm Nursing?

Maeve, Katherine M. RN, PhD; Vaughn, Michael S. PhD

Nursing Ethics

The number of incarcerated persons in the United States has been increasing dramatically over the last two decades. Incarcerated men and women have increased rates of serious and chronic physical and mental illnesses and therefore require substantial health care efforts. Caring for prisoners is a difficult and often unrewarding experience for health care providers, particularly within a social climate that encourages noncaring behaviors. This article critically analyzes three philosophic stances toward nursing care with prisoners and suggests their philosophic commensurability within traditional nursing practice. Implications for nursing practice, research, and education are discussed.

Associate Professor; Department of Community Nursing; Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, Georgia

Associate Professor; Department of Criminal Justice; Georgia State University; Atlanta, Georgia

Acknowledgment and thanks are given to Dr Judith Clare, Dean, School of Nursing, Flinders University, for her encouragement and facilitation of the development of this article. An earlier version was presented to the International Association of Forensic Nurses at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, on September 27, 2000.

© 2001 Aspen Publishers, Inc.