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Size and Scope of Justice-Involved Mental Illness

  • Jada Hector
  • David Khey
Chapter

Abstract

Before starting a discussion on just how many justice-involved individuals have a diagnosable mental illness, what those diagnoses tend to be, their severity of symptoms, and their rates of relapse, it will be helpful to keep a few caveats in mind. First, diagnosing mental illness can prove difficult as it impinges on the full cooperation of the patient. This cooperation may be influenced by stigma; varying levels of acceptance of mental health care by gender, race, and culture; and, likely, the “us versus them” relationship of medical staff to inmate, probation and parole officer to client, drug court case manager to client, and so on. Second, there is evidence of moderate amounts of malingering in the justice-involved population; in other words, justice-involved individuals are known to feign illness, including mental illness, if doing so will provide a benefit, such as getting out of assigned work duties, obtaining higher-quality meals, to get out of their jail or prison cell, to be able to be in an air-conditioned facility, or just to feel the reward of gaining a privilege or advantage, no matter how trivial it is to an average person. Last, there is considerable variation in applying mental health screening tools in professional circles, and, further, there can be dynamic differences in how mental health professionals apply diagnoses over time, by place or region, or given other factors (that will be discussed later). To make the long story short, there is a substantial amount of gray area when trying to estimate the prevalence of mental illness among the justice-involved population. This chapter will discuss the most current prevalence estimates—or the overall rate of mental illness among each segment of the justice-involved population.

Keywords

Twenty-First Century Cures Act Mental health prevalence Survey data Population data Mental health epidemiology Diagnosis Justice-involved individuals Cultural differences Waste of public resources 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jada Hector
    • 1
  • David Khey
    • 2
  1. 1.New OrleansUSA
  2. 2.University of LouisianaLafayetteUSA

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