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September 7, 2006

The pervasive problem of mental health problems

As detailed in this press release and this New York Times article, the Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics has released this new report entitled "Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates."  Here are some of the major findings as detailed in this press release:

More than half of all prison and jail inmates, including 56 percent of state prisoners, 45 percent of federal prisoners and 64 percent of local jail inmates, were found to have a mental health problem.... Among the inmates who reported symptoms of a mental disorder:

  • 54 percent of local jail inmates had symptoms of mania, 30 percent major depression and 24 percent psychotic disorder, such as delusions or hallucinations.
  • 43 percent of state prisoners had symptoms of mania, 23 percent major depression and 15 percent psychotic disorder.
  • 35 percent of federal prisoners had symptoms of mania, 16 percent major depression and 10 percent psychotic disorder.

September 7, 2006 at 10:02 PM | Permalink


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What else is expected. It's enough to drive any sane person crazy. No surprise to me. Was this survey before or after everything was taken away. I know that even if a person is not in prison, if life, liberty, financial and families were destroyed, anyone would have the symptoms of mania, major depression, psychotic disorder, such as delusions or hallucinations.

Some people have mental problems which sometimes caused them to commit crimes and yes, they should be locked away or committed, but can you image the number of people who became mental due to years of incarceration. It's frightening.

Posted by: Welch | Sep 7, 2006 11:05:23 PM

Look closley at the methodology of this study -- it's poor. This is similiar to other studies by DOJ on this topic. For instance, there is no diagnosis in the DSM for "mania" -- mania is a symptom of bi-polar disorder, but not a diagnosis itself. Plus, any DSM diagnosis was allowed (but not via a SCID interview, but through self-report). I could go on and on...

Posted by: Steve | Sep 8, 2006 7:19:36 AM

Though I posted some of the same data on Grits, I've gotta agree with Steve about methodology. In Texas, estimates I've seen run from 16-22% of inmates having "serious mental illness" that can be DSM classified - self-reported symptoms of "mania" capture a much broader but less well defined pool of folks.

Posted by: Gritsforbreakfast | Sep 9, 2006 7:27:15 AM

For heaven's sake, mental illness-in-prison fails to consider the impact of prison as these other comments note. I would say that a review of prison-bound folks would make more sense. As a criminal defense attorey of 30 years I would suggest that perhaps as much as 10% of the prison bound folks have moderate to serious mental health issues. a few actually get better in prison after they have dried out.

Posted by: David | Sep 10, 2006 12:42:45 AM

I really hve enjoyed looking here at these blogs give me alot of knowledge to understand and I am a student in the adj program and not to mention that I have recently had a sis n law that tried to come after me with a pair of siscors ...She has tried to commit suicide 2x and now we are in the process of the court system ...I was wondering if maybe you had an idea of what the outcome would be .....she was brought up on the charge of attempt malicious wounding ..she was under a 20,000 secured bond and we r in va ..we have went to court for the ph and i told my side of the story but they sent it to the criminal court the next court up...I know that I should know more but I guess In this situation that it helps to have imput from someone else ..the judge also sent it to thr grand jury any help would be of get help thanks

Posted by: jackey | Sep 14, 2006 10:06:00 PM

I am a mom of 2 with bipolar 1 history. I am so very confused and only holding onto hope at this point.
I plead no contest to a grand theft charge in Van Nuys Superior Court, which I was not guilty of about 9 months ago. I had a prior for forgery about 10 years ago due to being in a severe manic episode. After serving only 1 week in county jail, I had a severe mental breakdown with multiple suicide attempts. My disease is triggered by high stress and depression. At that time, the probation officer and judge was in contact with my psychiatrist, and all was put in the file. They were all very sympathetic. I continued therapy for many years, and was handling my life well. When this happened,I didn't want to take the chance of being found guilty by a jury. My problem is this - I was told by my attorney that the elements of the plea bargain was I pay back 50,000 restitution and there would be no state prison; a maximum of 1 year in county but no must do jail time, so he didn't bring up to the judge my bipolar disease relating to my prior.. There was a restitution hearing to determine if there was to be any more restitution, but, again, I was told by attorney the hearing would not change the sentence guidelines in the plea, only the amount with a maximum of 118,000. I paid the restitution, and last week the judge in court said 16 months state prison. When my attorney argued that, and even the D.A. agreed with my attorney, the judge then offered 6 months held in county (not sentenced?) which is a MUST DO WITH NO EARLY RELEASE (WORK RELEASE OR HOME MONITORING) and then brought before him for probation at that time. The judge said we do this or withdraw the plea. He sent us out of the courtroom; I told my attorney to withdraw my plea. He then came back to me and said the judge changed his mind and would only allow me to do the jail time or state. I was allowed to return home on OR for 2 weeks and then must return. The next day I confronted my lawyer about the plea bargain not being what he told me. He contradicted himself all over the place. Then he told me the judge, in fact, was going to allow me to withdraw my plea and we could go to trial, but he (the attorney) didn't tell me. Now he says he will file a motion to withdraw the plea, but doesn't think the judge will allow it. I don't know what to do. I've paid so much in restitution, and to my attorney, getting another attorney may not be an option. I can't spend 6 months in jail, PLEASE. IF I LAST, IT WILL RUIN MY LIFE FOREVER. I AM NOT A BAD PERSON. I had to stop my necessary therapy after paying all the money to the courts for restitution and to the attorney, so I've been without my meds or therapy for around 7 months. I'm so afraid to go to jail under these conditions. I can accept being home monitored, if that's what they want, and it will cost them nothing - then I can continue, perhaps with some low cost therapy and help with meds. Can I have the plea revisited to see what's in the transcript? Will this help? If I was given the wrong information by my attorney, can I appeal the decision? The judge and the prosecutor need to know of my disease and consider it in my sentencing. . My attorney never let me bring that up to the judge regarding the prior, nor any sentencing. I'm a mess. Can you help?

Posted by: julia demaria | Jan 23, 2007 1:35:13 PM

I am a student and i am making a research about the bipolar disorder help! Thank you for the post.

Posted by: michael jones | Feb 1, 2008 12:02:15 PM

Research on the pervasive developmental disorders within a cultural context and in developing countries has received limited attention from both the fields of mental health and anthropology. Although autism holds considerable potential for expanding the field of transcultural psychiatry, the bulk of research has consisted of case studies and brief reviews, with few studies undertaking a serious discussion of cultural factors.

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Posted by: samflutch | Aug 20, 2008 9:29:26 AM

Adequately resourced Tiers 2 and 3 learning disability specialist CAMHS with staff with the necessary competencies to address mental health difficulties in children and young people with learning disabilities or pervasive development disorders.

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Posted by: Hennry | Aug 21, 2008 4:24:39 AM

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