April 1983

Mentally Ill Women in a County Jail

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Southern California, School of Medicine, Los Angeles.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1983;40(4):363-368. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1983.01790040017002

• We studied 101 inmates of a county jail for women who were randomly selected from those referred for psychiatric evaluation. Eighty-six percent had a history of psychiatric hospitalization; 94% had prior arrest records, 50% of these for felonies. More than half met the criteria for involuntary hospitalization. When arrested more than 40% were transients, and only 7% were employed. Seventy percent had histories of serious physical violence, more than 40% had engaged in prostitution, and 84% of those with children had demonstrated an inability to take care of them. Far fewer mentally ill women than men were incarcerated in county jail. As in our study of male inmates, there appeared to have been some "criminalization" of the mentally ill. There is a need for more mandatory aftercare and ongoing involuntary treatment for this population.