Public Sector Responses to Jail Mental Health: A Review with Recommendations for Future Research


The history of public mental health intervention in the US has been uneven and in some instances is characterized by a strong overtone of neglect. While clinical research in primarily private settings has generated findings that give a strong sense of “what works” in mental health diagnosis and treatment, this review pays special attention to the distribution of mental illness among jailed populations. Local jail systems house a substantial number of mentally challenged individuals but receive less attention than is warranted given their numbers. This paper concludes with a plea for research with a focus on the community determinants of mental health systems in order to enhance delivery of services and increase the likelihood of reaching those most in need of mental health treatment.

Share and Cite:

Helms, R. , Gutierrez, R. & Reeves-Gutierrez, D. (2014). Public Sector Responses to Jail Mental Health: A Review with Recommendations for Future Research. Sociology Mind, 4, 31-35. doi: 10.4236/sm.2014.41004.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Ala, M. D. (1972). Wyatt v. stickney.
[2] Beers, C. W. (1908). A mind that found itself. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.
[3] Bureau of Justice Statistics (2006). Mental health problems of prison and jail inmates. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs.
[4] Bureau of Justice Statistics (2009).
[5] Clear, T., Cole, G., & Reisig, M. (2011). American corrections (9th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
[6] Cornelius, G. F. (2008). The American jail: Cornerstone of modern corrections. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
[7] Cox, J. F., Morschauser, P. C., Banks, S., & Stone, J. L. (2001). A fiveyear population study of persons involved in the mental health and local correctional systems: Implications for service planning. The Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, 28, 177-187.
[8] Dix, D. L. (1975) On behalf of the insane poor: Selected reports 1842-1862. New York, NY: Ayer Co. Publishers, Inc.
[9] Dix, D. L. (1843). Memorial to the legislature of Massachusetts.
[10] Drake, R. E., Alterman, A. I., & Rosenberg, S. R. (1993). Detection of substance use disorders in severely mentally ill patients. Community Mental Health Journal, 29, 175-192.
[11] Edens, J. F., Peters, R. H., & Hills, H. A. (1997). Treating prison inmates with co-occurring disorders: An integrative review of existing programs. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 15, 439-457.<439::AID-BSL282>3.0.CO;2-X
[12] Gibbs, J. (1982). On demons and goals: A summary and review of investigations concerning the psychological problems of jail prisoners. In C. Dunn, & H. J. Steadman (Eds.), Mental health services in local jails: A report on a special national workshop. Rockville, MD: National Institute of Mental Health.
[13] Gibbs, J., Maiello, K., Kolb, J., Garofalo, F., Aidler, F., & Costello, S. (1983). Stress, setting, and satisfaction: The final report of the manjail transactions project. Unpublished report. Washington DC: National Institute of Justice.
[14] Goslin, L. O. (2008). “Old” and “new” institutions for persons with mental illness: Treatment, punishment or preventive confinement. Public Health, 122, 906-913.
[15] Grimes, J. M. (1974). Institutional care of mental patients in the United States. Chicago, IL: Grimes Publishing.
[16] Hardy, S. L. (1984). Dealing with the mentally and emotionally disturbed. Corrections Today, 126, 16-18.
[17] Helms, R., Gutierrez, R., & Reeves-Gutierrez, D. (2013). Jail mental health services: A conceptual and empirical study of social determinants. (Under Review).
[18] Holcomb, W. R., & Ahr, P. R. (1988). Arrest rates among young adult psychiatric patients treated in inpatient and outpatient settings. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 39, 52-57.
[19] Irwin, M., Tolbert, C., & Lyson, T. (1999). There’s no place like home: Nonmigration and civic engagement. Environment and Planning, 31, 2223-2238.
[20] James, D. J., & Glaze, E. (2006). Mental health problems of prison and jail inmates.
[21] Kerle, K. E. (2004). Exploring jail operations. Hagerstown, MD: American Jails Association.
[22] Kalinich, D., Embert, P., & Senese, J. D. (1988). Integrating community mental health services into local jails: A policy perspective. Policy Studies Review, 7, 660-670.
[23] Lamb, H. R., & Weinberger, L. E. (2005). The shift of psychiatric inpatient care from hospitals to jails and prisons. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry the Law, 33, 529-534.
[24] National Institute of Mental Health (2009). on 7/13/2010
[25] Perez, A., Leifman, S., & Estrada, A. (2003). Reversing the criminalization of mental illness. Crime and Delinquency, 49, 62-78.
[26] Peters, R. H., LeVasseur, M. E., & Chandler, R. K. (2004). Correctional treatment for co-occurring disorders: Results of a national survey. Behavioral Sciences and the Law, 22, 563-584.
[27] Peters, R. H., & Steinberg, M. L. (2000). Substance abuse treatment services in US prisons. In D. Shewan, & J. Davies (Eds.), Drugs and Prisons (pp. 89-116). London: Harwood.
[28] Ruddell, R. (2010). American jails: A retrospective examination. Richmond Kentucky: Newgate Press.
[29] Staples, W. G. (1990). Castles of our conscience: Social control and the American state, 1800-1985. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.
[30] Steadman, H. J., Morrissey, J. P., & Robbins, P. C. (1985). Reevaluating the custody-treatment conflict paradigm in correctional mental health settings. Criminology, 23, 165-179.
[31] Teague, G. B., Schwab, B., & Drake, R. E. (1990). Evaluating services for young adults with severe mental illness and substance abuse disorders. Arlington, VA: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.
[32] Teplin, L. (1984). Criminalizing mental disorder: The comparative arrest rate of the mentally ill. American Psychologist, 39, 794-803.
[33] Torrey, E. F., Kennard, A. D., Eslinger, D., Lamb, R., & Pavle, J. (2010). More mentally ill persons are in jails and prisons than in hospitals. Arlington/Alexandria, VA: National Sheriffs Association and Treatment Advocacy Center.
[34] United States Department of Justice. Bureau of Justice Statistics. National Jail Census (1999). ICPSR03318-v3. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor].
[35] Walsh, J., & Holt, D. (1999). Jail diversion for people with psychiatric disabilities: The sheriffs’ perspective. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 23, 153-160.

Copyright © 2024 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.