Mentally Ill are Less Likely to be Returned to Jail

Contradicting both prior research and popular belief, a researcher from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University is arguing that those inmates with only mental illnesses are actually less likely to return to prison than those with substance abuse problems, those with both substance abuse and mental issues, or those with neither.

Amy Wilson, assistant professor of social work at Case Western the new findings result from a more detailed separation of the data. While earlier studies had divided inmates into those with serious mental disorders like schizophrenia and affective disorders and the general prison population, Wilson and her team further separated the inmates by substance abuse history.

By examining the recidivism rates for the 20,112 individuals admitted to jails in Philadelphia in 2003, and comparing them with Medicaid records to determine mental health and substance abuse issues, Wilson determined that 60 percent of those who return to jail do so within four years. In that time, 60 percent of those with neither substance abuse or mental health histories were readmitted, while 66 percent of substance abusers and 68 percent of mentally ill substance abusers were also readmitted. Only 54 percent of those with only mental illnesses returned to jail in that time.

Wilson hypothesizes that programs and resources are more readily available for the mentally ill than for substance abusers or those with both problems. She argues for more integrated services for those two problems and a greater focus on the ways the criminal justice system is unprepared to deal with those with substance abuse problems and mental illness.

Source: MedicalNewsToday.com

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