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Mental illness protects some inmates from returning to jail
Date:1/17/2012

People with mental illness have gotten a bad rap in past research studies, being labeled the group of people with the highest return rates to prison. But a researcher from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University counters those findings in a new studydemonstrating that inmates with severe mental illnesses alone actually have lower rates of recidivism than those with substance abuse issues or no mental or substance abuse issues.

Past studies compared inmates with severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia and severe affective disorders, with a general population of released inmates and found that those with mental illnesses had higher recidivism rates.

The study's principal investigator Amy B. Wilson, assistant professor of social work at Case Western Reserve, said the researchers took a novel approach to studying recidivism among released inmates from one of the country's largest jail systems (Philadelphia) and separated inmates into four categories: those with severe mental illnesses, those with a substance abuse problem, those with dual problems of mental illness and substance abuse, and those with neither problem.

When looking at individual groups, those with mental illnesses alone fared bettereven compared against those with no mental or substance abuse issues.

The findings from the study, "Examining the impact of mental illness and substance use on recidivism in a county jail," were reported in the International Journal of Law and Psychiatry.

The researchers looked at recidivism rates for 20,112 inmates admitted to the Philadelphia jail system in 2003 and then tracked their return rates over the next four years. Using data from Philadelphia's behavioral health system on Medicaid records and from the Philadelphia Country's jail system on admission, release and demographic information, the researchers were able to categorize the individuals into the four groups and fo
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Contact: Susan Griffith
susan.griffith@case.edu
216-368-1004
Case Western Reserve University
Source:Eurekalert

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