Critical Issues - Quality of Care in Correctional Settings

From: Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 24, No. 1, March 1997

Mental Health Services in United States Jails

A Survey of Innovative Practices

Suzanne M. Morris
Henry J. Steadman
Bonita M. Veysey

Abstract: This study used a stratified sample to elicit information about policies and practices for managing detainees with mental illness in five sizes of jails. The research design involved 3 phases: (a) a mail survey to a random sampling of all United States jails, (b) a telephone survey to a stratified sample of 100 of the mail survey respondents, and (c) site visits to 10 jails. The finding indicated much emphasis in the jails' mental health services on screening, evaluation, and suicide prevention. Also, despite numerous barriers faced by jails in providing treatment for detainees with mental illnesses, many have designed and implemented innovative programs and policies for this group. The observed innovative programs and policies are divided into 5 core areas so that other jails, using the information provided, can develop a mental health service strategy within their resources.

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