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New Study-Prevalence of Serious Mental Illness among Jail Inmates

New Study Released on Prevalence of Serious Mental Illness among Jail Inmates


The lead article in the June issue of Psychiatric Services by Henry J. Steadman, PhD and colleagues found that 14.5% of male and 31.0% of female inmates recently admitted to jail have a serious mental illness. The study was conducted by Dr. Steadman, Dr. Fred Osher, Pamela Clark Robbins, Brian Case, and Dr. Steven Samuels. All authors are affiliated with Policy Research Associates, Inc., except for Dr. Osher of the Council of State Governments Justice Center. The study was partially funded by the Justice Center.  The authors analyzed data collected from two time periods at multiple jails to calculate the prevalence of mental illness. Selection of inmates for clinical interviews was based on systematic sampling of data from a brief screen for symptoms of mental illness that was administered at admission for all inmates as part of earlier research by the authors. The screen was administered to 11,168 inmates during the first phase of data collection and 10,240 inmates during the second phase. A diagnostic interview protocol was administered to a total sample of 822 inmates and weighting procedures were applied to generate the prevalence estimates. These findings confirm what jail administrators already know – a substantial proportion of inmates entering jails have a serious mental illness and women have rates twice that of men.
§  The article is available from Council of State Governments Justice Center.
§  View the services available from Policy Research Associates to improve your community’s response to justice-involved people with serious mental illness. 
§  View the brief prepared by the Council of State Governments Justice Center.