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Axis I psychiatric disorders (PD) and substance use disorders (SUD) are common in prison, but only few studies have focused on their association in this setting. Dual diagnosis (DD) (the co-occurrence of a SUD and any axis I disorder) is known to have a poorer prognosis and to require more intense supportive care.The objectives of this study were (1) to describe prisoners with DD (prevalence and characteristics); (2) to compare DD prisoners with 3 other groups of prisoners: no diagnosis (ND), SUD alone, or other isolated PD; and (3) to evaluate the impact of DD on suicide risk in prison.A random stratified strategy was used to select 23 various types of prisons and 998 prisoners. Diagnoses were assessed using a unique procedure, each prisoner being evaluated by 2 psychiatrists, 1 junior, using a structured interview (MINI 5 plus), and 1 senior, using an open clinical interview. Following interviews, clinicians met to establish a list of diagnoses. Cloninger's temperament and character inventory was also used.Of the prisoners, 26.3% had a DD. DD prevalence was almost 80% in prisoners with SUD, while only one-third of the prisoners with an axis I PD had co-morbid SUD. No significant differences were observed in drug use patterns between DD and SUD without co-morbid PDs. DD showed the strongest association with suicide risk [OR = 5.7 (1.7–4.6)].DD is very frequent in prison and is a major risk factor for suicide. Systematic psychiatric/SUD screening of prisoners with either a SUD or an axis I PD should be encouraged.