My name is Carley Cook, and I’m a senior from Santa Fe, New Mexico. I’m majoring in Psychology and Political Science, with a minor in English. After graduation in the spring, I plan to teach for a couple of years and eventually attend law school. Over the past year, I have been asking myself how psychology will fit into my legal career in the criminal justice system. The Gil internship has offered me a way to engage with that persistent question and discover an answer for myself. My Gil internship is at the Department of Public Safety—Prisons Division, working with the Clinical Psychology Programs Manager, Charles Mautz.
The Prisons office building’s open office doors and conversational workers give it a friendly atmosphere. This atmosphere is a stark contrast to Central Prison looming behind the office. Central Prison is practically in the office building’s backyard, and the window above my desk looks out over the prison and the gray concrete block that is North Carolina’s only death row. This view is certainly sobering, and every time my eyes wander up to the window, I am reminded of this work’s importance.
My supervisor, Charles Mautz, oversees all the clinical psychology programs of the North Carolina prison system. He is the big picture guy, making sure that new programs are headed in the right direction and that established programs are staying on track. The trickiest of the current programs is the Therapeutic Diversion Unit (TDU) Program, which is only in its third year. The TDU program places offenders whom have been moved to restricted housing (also known as solitary confinement) and whom have been diagnosed with a mental illness in an intensive 6- to12-month behavioral program. The program aims to establish a trusting environment within each cohort where offenders have the opportunity to set personal and professional goals for themselves and spend meaningful time making a plan to achieve their goals. Without a doubt, the TDU program is providing an essential service to many people in the NC prison system.
I have only been working at DPS for 2 weeks, and I have already learned so much about the prison system in general, as well as the programs that North Carolina offers for offenders in the NC prison system. I have also begun my semester-long project: the literature review to end all literature reviews, as Charles calls it. I have compiled a master literature review with all the psychological research articles about NC Prisons as well as many essential articles about clinical programming in prisons. I am now synthesizing the articles in order to create concise but detailed summaries that can be used internally by the department when writing future publications. I am getting an in-depth view of the prison system—primarily the ways it fails the mentally ill prison population. I feel very fortunate to work with Charles and the rest of the Clinical Psychology program in the department to resolve the faults in the criminal justice system’s treatment of offenders who are experiencing mental illness. As I plan for the next three months, I look forward to many enriching discussions and experiences, including accompanying Charles to Central Prison. I have the Gil Internship program to thank for this opportunity.