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Effects of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders on Institutional Misconduct Among Female Inmates

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 29 Issue: 6 Dated: December 2012 Pages: 799-828
Kimberly A. Houser; Steven Belenko; Pauline K. Brennan
Date Published
December 2012
30 pages
This study examined if mental illness is a risk factor for institutional misconduct.
Mentally ill offenders are disproportionately involved in prison misconduct. Although mental illness is recognized as a risk factor for poor prison adjustment, the additive nature of mental illness co-occurring with substance use disorders has not yet been examined. Using data from the Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities, the authors compared the institutional misconduct experiences of female inmates with co-occurring disorders (CODs) to those for inmates with singular disorders or no disorders. Bivariate and multivariate analyses indicated that the risk of misbehavior was higher for inmates with mental illness combined with a drug dependence/abuse disorder than for inmates with singular disorders, but their disciplinary experiences did not statistically differ. These findings suggest that inmates with CODs may pose a uniquely complex challenge for prison administration, which has important implications for corrections policy and practice. Abstract published by arrangement with Taylor and Francis.