America's Jails: the New Mental Asylums?

Released: 5/12/2011 2:05 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Indiana University of Pennsylvania
Contact Information

Available for logged-in reporters only

Citations Women's Health Mental Issues Across the Criminal Justice System (2009)

Newswise — Jail or asylum? Two Indiana University of Pennsylvania criminologists argue that jails ARE the new asylums.

Deinstitutionalization and the “War on Drugs,” two failed national social policy initiatives of the last 50 years, are in large measure responsible for jails again being termed the new asylums as they have once again filled with mentally ill men and women, according to IUP criminology professor Dr. Rosemary Gido and IUP criminology alumnae Dr. Lanette Dalley. Dalley currently is affiliated with the University of Denver.

Mentally ill women have become the most invisible of females in the justice system, outnumbering mentally ill male offenders in jails and prisons, and more likely to have a history of co-occurring disorders and trauma, the researchers note.

Gido and Dalley presented their research recently at the Garda Police College in Ireland and at the annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in San Francisco. The research is a continuation of the criminologists’ work in their edited book, Women's Mental Health Issues Across the Criminal Justice System (Prentice Hall 2009).

This book includes 14 years of research on jailed women’s mental health needs, with a focus on suicide and trauma studies. The book also addresses deficiencies in jail intake, assessment, and treatment and recent advances in ‘gender-responsive’ jail program components and models.

The most recent jail diversion models for trauma-informed integrated models of treatment are identified in the book. The writers note that these initiatives, while beginning to demonstrate success, offer but a glimmer of hope to mentally ill female offenders as they continue to be incarcerated in jails and prisons across the United States.


Comment/Share