Characteristics of Inmates Who Received a Diagnosis of Serious Mental Illness Upon Entry to New York State Prison

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ObjectiveThis study investigated the characteristics of inmates who received a diagnosis of serious mental illness upon entry to a New York State prison. The number has been rapidly increasing since the 1990s.MethodsChart review was performed for inmates who entered prison between May 15, 2007, and June 14, 2007, and received a diagnosis of serious mental illness.ResultsSix percent (172 of 2,918 inmates) received a diagnosis of serious mental illness. The mean±SD age of these 172 patients was 36±9.6. A total of 167 (97%) had a prior psychiatric hospitalization, and 48 (28%) had four or more. Seventy-nine (46%) had their first hospitalization ten or more years ago. A total of 107 (62%) had a prior serious suicide attempt, 101 (59%) had prior inpatient treatment for substance abuse, and 79 (46%) had prior state prison incarceration.ConclusionsThis is a very high-need population for which correctional mental health services need to plan. (Psychiatric Services 59:1335–1337, 2008)

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