Ragged Edge Online Home

Study Finds Most U.S. Inmates Have Mental Illness, But Few Receive Treatment

by Dave Reynolds (subscribe)

WASHINGTON, DC--The U.S. Department of Justice released a report Wednesday, showing that more than 1.25 million people behind bars experience one or more mental illness. That represents more than one-half of the total inmate population across the U.S. including 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners and 64 percent of local jail inmates.

The report noted that less than one-third of them receive treatment of any kind for their symptoms of major depression, mania, hallucinations or delusions in the previous year. Most of those simply received medication.

The data was collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics based on personal interviews with a representative sample of prisoners in local jails, state prisons, and federal prisons.

The research showed that prisoners with mental health problems were more likely to have been homeless in the year before jail; to have gotten into one or more fights while behind bars; to have been physically or sexually abused before they were incarcerated; and to have alcohol and drug problems.

The data also showed that those with mental illnesses were not significantly more likely than other inmates to have used a weapon during a crime or to have committed a violent offense.

Female prisoners were much more likely to experience mental illnesses, the report noted.

Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates (U.S. Department of Justice -- Office of Justice Programs)

Copyright 2006 Inonit Publishing
Article reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express international disability rights news service. Please do not reprint, republish or forward without permission.