Department

Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Thomas Mowen

Description

Mental illness is stigmatized and often difficult to treat in the United States, and even more so within the criminal justice system. A disproportionate number of inmates in America struggle with some form of mental illness due to a dysfunctional health care system (Chandler 2009). There are also an overwhelming number of people who are incarcerated due to drug charges. After America declared the war on drugs, prison populations skyrocketed, filling with a broad range of drug offenders (Lamb 2004). Those with substance abuse problems commonly struggle with co-occurring disorders, often some form of mental health issue (Swartz 2007). While there is extensive literature on rates of mental illness within the criminal justice system as well as on substance use patterns of those incarcerated, little has been done to determine how incarceration affects mental health and how that relates to substance abuse. This research aims to fill the gap in literature by utilizing the SVORI dataset, which includes survey data from over 7,000 prisoners spanning across 14 states. This research seeks to determine how incarceration affects changes in mental health and how those changes in turn can affect substance abuse.

Comments

Honors Program

Oral Presentation

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The Invisible Shackles: How incarceration affects changes in mental health and substance abuse

Mental illness is stigmatized and often difficult to treat in the United States, and even more so within the criminal justice system. A disproportionate number of inmates in America struggle with some form of mental illness due to a dysfunctional health care system (Chandler 2009). There are also an overwhelming number of people who are incarcerated due to drug charges. After America declared the war on drugs, prison populations skyrocketed, filling with a broad range of drug offenders (Lamb 2004). Those with substance abuse problems commonly struggle with co-occurring disorders, often some form of mental health issue (Swartz 2007). While there is extensive literature on rates of mental illness within the criminal justice system as well as on substance use patterns of those incarcerated, little has been done to determine how incarceration affects mental health and how that relates to substance abuse. This research aims to fill the gap in literature by utilizing the SVORI dataset, which includes survey data from over 7,000 prisoners spanning across 14 states. This research seeks to determine how incarceration affects changes in mental health and how those changes in turn can affect substance abuse.