Mental Health

Individuals with mental illnesses are significantly overrepresented in corrections criminal justice settings. Prevalence estimates of serious mental illness in jails are similarly high. In a study of more than 20,000 adults entering five local jails, researchers documented serious mental illnesses in 14.5 percent of the men and 31 percent of the women, which taken together, comprises 16.9 percent of those studied—rates in excess of three to six times those found in the general population.1 Given the high rates of mental illnesses among the jail and prison populations, and their unique service needs, corrections officials should seek to engage community-based behavioral health care providers to offer pre- and post-release services to people with mental illnesses.

Key Resources


Steadman, H. J., F. Osher, P. C. Robbins, B. Case, and S. Samuels. Prevalence of Serious Mental Illness Among Jail Inmates. Psychiatric Services 60 (2009): 761–65.