Mental Health Services in Rural Jails

Research center:
Lead researcher:
Project funded:
September 2007
Project completed:
December 2009
Topic:
Numerous studies indicate that incarcerated populations are at high risk of having mental health or substance abuse problems. In 2005, more than half of all jail and prison inmates in the U.S. had a mental health problem, and research suggests that inmates of county jails have the highest rates of mental health symptoms or recent history of mental health issues. In addition, local jails often hold mentally ill persons pending their movement to appropriate mental health facilities. This project will investigate how rural jails manage the mental health and substance abuse problems of their inmates, including providing direct services, contracting for services, and planning for post-discharge services. Through analysis of the National Survey of Jails and semi-structured interviews with state-level and county-level/local officials, barriers to providing such services will be assessed and promising practices will be documented. Findings will be disseminated to state and local corrections officials, as well as rural mental health stakeholders.

Publications

  • Mental Health Services in Rural Jails (Policy Brief)
    Policy Brief
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 09/2009
    The prevalence of mental illness among prison and jail inmates has attracted increasing attention in both mental health and criminal justice circles.
  • Mental Health Services in Rural Jails (Working Paper)
    Maine Rural Health Research Center
    Date: 08/2010
    This study explored the role of rural jails in the mental health systems in rural communities, investigating how rural jails manage mental health and substance abuse problems among inmates, determining barriers to providing mental health services faced by rural jails, and identifying promising practices for service delivery.