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Mental Health Problems: Mentally Ill Offenders

An intensive research on mental health problems was carried out among prison and jail inmates between 2002 and 2004 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in USA. The research included inmates in local jails, federal and state prisons. Interviews carried out among inmates were the main contributors of data for this research. The Bureau of justice statistic released a special report on their findings in 2006. Results obtained from this research indicated a high percentage of mental health cases among inmates both in prisons and local jails. Characteristics that aided the data collection process included; criminal records, abuse of substances, poor family background and violence related incidences. The numbers of inmates found to have mental health related problems were 705600, 70200 and 479900 in state prisons, federal prisons and local jails respectively (James & Glaze, 2006).

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The results obtained from the study indicated that there were more female inmates who exhibited symptoms of mental problems compared to their male counterparts. In the state prisons, 73.1% of female inmates were mentally ill while only 55% of male inmates were mentally ill. 61.2% of female inmates compared to 43.6% of male inmates exhibited mental problems in federal prisons. The situation was not any better in local jails as 75.4% of female inmates were mentally ill compared to 62.8% mentally ill male inmates. The research also indicated that in the past 12 moths prior to the study, three times more female inmates than males were diagnosed with mental disorder related cases by qualified mental health experts. This study was drawn from 24% females and about 8% male inmates from state prisons and local jails (James & Glaze, 2006).

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On a general scale, state inmates indicated more cases of mental illness when compared to inmates in federal prisons. The study indicated that 49% of state prison inmates were mentally ill compared to 40% mentally ill federal prisoners. A study on the recent history of mental illness cases among prisoners indicated that more state prisoners had suffered from mental illness prior to the research compared to federal prisoners. 7% of state offenders compared to 5% of federal offenders were discovered were discovered to have had a recent history of mental illness but had no symptoms (James & Glaze, 2006).

The research carried out by the bureau of justice statistic was very insightful on cases of mental problems suffered by prisoners in USA. Most cases of mental problems were reported in local jails followed by state prisons while federal prisons reported fewer cases. A larger percentage of female offenders suffered from mental illnesses compared to their male counterparts.

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