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Co-Occurring Mental Disorders Among Incarcerated Women: Preliminary Findings From an Integrated Health Treatment Study

NCJ Number
Journal of Offender Rehabilitation Volume: 45 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 207-225
Doreen D. Salina; Linda M. Lesondak; Lisa A. Razzano; Ann Weilbaecher
Date Published
19 pages
Summary results are presented from a study of women diagnosed with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders involved in a jail-based diversion program.
Women involved in the criminal justice system have very high rates of co-occurring disorders. In this study sample, 75 percent of these women also demonstrated symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While women are still actively involved in the criminal justice system, focus should be placed on obtaining accurate, comprehensive substance abuse and mental health diagnoses and developing multi-dimensional treatment planning that include relevant data on all five axes of the DSM-IV. Use of all axes can inform both the appropriate treatment strategies and the expected prognosis and outcomes. Accurate psychological assessment, early in the process of incarceration and which generates a multidimensional treatment plan, is key to identifying the most severe disorders. This is reflected in the Cook County Sheriff’s Department of Women’s Justice Services (DWJS), a diversion treatment program created to treat nonviolent drug using women involved in the criminal justice system. Its goal is to provide gender-specific treatment to women offenders. This program, as well as others, is intended to divert women with substance abuse and other mental health disorders from the criminal justice system to appropriate treatment and comprehensive services within their communities. There is a growing awareness of the incidence of mental disorders among women involved in the criminal justice system. Two hundred and eighty-three women were participants in a federally-funded study and met all DSM-IV criteria for at least two Axis I disorders, including one substance abuse diagnosis with PTSD the primary mental health diagnosis. This research was designed to integrate programming to simultaneously address mental health, substance use, and HIV/sexually transmitted risk behaviors. Data demonstrate the types and frequency of mental and substance use disorders in this sample, as well as co-occurring medication conditions, and more. Tables, references


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