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More Than Half of All Prison And Jail Inmates Have Mental Health Problems

A study, reported on back in 2006, showed:

more than half of all prison and jail inmates have mental health problems, 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, according to a new study published today by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

The findings are from 2006.  This makes me wonder how this report would look for 2010!  It is no secret that our prisons are filled with the mentally ill.  My question: how many would not have to be there if there was adequate treatment?!

I know the number would still be high…Since we cannot force people to get treatment.  But, at least, there could be some “preventive measures” to help side-step jail. Yes, there are things being done, but it’s not about finding people willing to do the job!  It’s about getting the funding to DO THE JOB RIGHT!!  That is not only my opinion but a fact.  Just check out what NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Florida 2010 State Statistics reported:

Public Mental Health Services are Inadequate to Meet Needs

• Florida’s public mental health system provides services to only 26 percent of adults who live with serious mental illnesses in the state.

• Florida spent just $38 per capita on mental health agency services in 2006, or $686.6 million. This was just 1.1 percent of total state spending that year.

• In 2006, 56 percent of Florida state mental health agency spending was on community mental health services; 42 percent was spent on state hospital care.  Nationally, an average of 70 percent is spent on community mental health services and 28 percent on state hospital care.

Criminal Justice Systems Bear a Heavy Burden

• In 2006, 7,302 children were incarcerated in Florida’s juvenile justice system.  Nationally, approximately 70 percent of youth in juvenile justice systems experience mental health disorders, with 20 percent experiencing a severe mental health condition.

• In 2008, approximately 24,600 adults with mental illnesses were incarcerated in prisons in Florida. Additionally, an estimated 31 percent of female and 14 percent of male jail inmates nationally live with serious mental illness.

Dr. Bob Bob answers a question about his slashed tires and keyed  Carol from Cell Block D

Here is part of the 2006 study (Important Facts to Consider)… 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.
  • (Additional information about BJS statistical reports and programs is available from the BJS website at

    The report, “Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates” (NCJ-213600) was written by BJS statisticians, Doris J. James and Lauren E. Glaze. Following publication, the report can be found at:

Inmates with a mental health problem also had high rates of substance dependence or abuse in the year before their admission—

  • 74 percent of state prisoners and 76 percent of local jail inmates were dependent on or abusing drugs or alcohol.
  • 37 percent of state prisoners and 34 percent of jail inmates said they had used drugs at the time of their offense.
  • 13 percent of state prisoners and 12 percent of jail inmates had used methamphetamines in the month before their offense.

If PRISON AND JAIL INMATES HAVE MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS before they get into trouble, then reaching out to the public for “preventive measures”  before incarceration should be high on the list of things to fix the problem!!  None of the studies I’ve read touch on the fact that being incarcerated was the “main” trigger for the mental illness episodes….interesting!!

Here is one last stat for you to consider about living here in Florida:

In Florida, people with mental illnesses in jails and prisons outnumber those in state mental health hospitals by five to one.

More Than Half of All Prison And Jail Inmates Have Mental Health Problems

Chato Stewart

Chato Stewart has a mission, to draw and use humor as a positive tool to live, to cope with the debilitating effects symptoms of mental illness. Chato Stewart is a Mental Health Hero and Advocate. Recovery Peer Specialist board-certified in Florida. Chato is the artist behind the cartoons series Mental Health Humor, Over-Medicated, and The Family Stew - seen here in his blog posts. The cartoons are drawn from his personal experience of living with bipolar disorder (and other labels). [email protected]

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APA Reference
Stewart, C. (2010). More Than Half of All Prison And Jail Inmates Have Mental Health Problems. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 21 Jun 2010
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