Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Robert Buckler, MD, MPH

Second Advisor

Kathleen Gathercoal, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Christopher Koch, Ph.D.


In recent years, there has been an increase in public and professional concern regarding the mentally ill offender in the criminal justice system. Several researchers have identified the need for further investigation of the mentally ill in correctional environments. This research was pai1 of a program evaluation in a large metropolitan county jail. Four main question were investigated: 1. Do inmates identified as mentally ill differ from the general jail population? 2. How consistent are the diagnoses of those identified as mentally in the correctional computer database (SWIS) compared to the diagnoses recorded in the medical records? 3. Is there a discrepancy between those identified as mentally ill from their medical records and the SWIS database? 4. What percentage of those diagnosed as mentally ill received treatment? The typical inmate identified as mentally ill in this study is male and Caucasian. However, of the inmates identified as mentally ill, Caucasians and females were overrepresented compared to the general jail population. They were also less likely to be African American. Sixty-six percent of the individuals identified as mentally ill were not given a diagnosis in the SWIS database while only 15.9% of those identified as mentally ill in their medical charts were not diagnosed. In the general jail population, 17% of inmates were diagnosed as mentally ill from medical chart reviews, while only 4.1 % were so diagnosed in the SWIS database. Nineteen percent of inmates identified as mentally ill from their medical charts did not receive treatment after being so identified. This information can be utilized to increase effectiveness in the identification and diagnosis of the mentally ill in correctional facilities. It can also be used to improve appropriate treatment once appropriate diagnoses have been made.

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