Characteristics and experiences of adults with a serious mental illness who were involved in the criminal justice system
This study identified characteristics and experiences of people who were arrested and jail inmates with a serious mental illness that were associated with misdemeanor and felony arrests and additional days in jail. Using Pinellas county, FL and statewide criminal justice records and health and social service archival data sets, the study identified inmates with serious mental illness who were in the county jail between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004, and their health and social service contacts from July 1, 2002, to June 10, 2006. Criminal justice and mental health services were recorded longitudinally during 90-day periods. Generalized estimating equations for count data were used to describe the associations between individual characteristics and experiences and the risks of misdemeanor and felony arrests and additional days in jail. A total of 3,769 jail inmates (10.1% of all jail inmates) were diagnosed as having a serious mental illness. Participants experienced a mean +/- SD of .90 +/-.60 arrest for every three quarters and 10.9 +/- 23.6 days in jail per quarter that they resided in the county. Being male, being homeless, not having outpatient mental health treatment, and having an involuntary psychiatric evaluation in the previous quarter were independently associated with significantly increased odds of misdemeanor arrests and additional days in jail. On the other hand, being African American, being younger than 21, having a nonpsychotic diagnosis, and a co-occurring substance use disorder diagnosis were all independently associated with significantly increased odds of felony arrests, and with the exception of having a nonpsychotic diagnosis, they were also significantly associated with additional days in jail. Findings of this study suggest that there are subgroups of individuals with a serious mental illness in the criminal justice system that may require different policy and programmatic responses.
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