Special needs offenders are incarcerated offenders with special needs stemming from their physical or mental age or other disabilities. Special needs can encompass many types of conditions like :
offenders with severe psychological needs, mental retardation, significant psychiatric disorders, behavior disorders, multiple handicaps, neurological impairment and substance abuse; or
offenders with physical handicaps, or chronic or terminal illnesses; or
elderly offenders; or
offenders with severe social and/or educational deficiencies, learning disabilities or language barriers; or
offenders with special security or supervision needs, such as protective custody cases, death row inmates and those who chronically exhibit potential or aggressive behavior; or
sex offenders, for whom appropriate treatment may reduce the risk of reoffending.
Substance abuse is a major cause of creating special needs offenders in the society. Special needs offenders are to be given special attention during intake and incarceration. Proper evaluation and assessment has to be conducted during the intake of these offenders. The state departments of correction and various other agencies work closely in the treatment process of special needs offenders through programs such as community-policing, community-based corrections, and community citizen integration.
Because the definition of special needs offenders varies greatly, local laws should be consulted for requirements in your area.