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Prison-Based Psychiatric Care: A Survival Analysis

25 July 2005


Although not designed to provide psychiatric care or treatment, United States correctional facilities have been charged in recent decades with the task of treating mentally ill offenders who represent anywhere from 8% to 30% of their population. This paper presents the results of a survival analysis conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of psychiatric units within the Oregon Department of Corrections. The results suggested that although inmates with chronic, severe mental illness had difficulty adjusting to life in prison, their adjustment was dramatically improved by the implementation of a system of evidence-based treatment programs. The system emphasized the principles of psychosocial rehabilitation across all levels of care, including acute inpatient, intermediate residential, and outpatient clinic. Prior to its implementation, severely mentally ill inmates did not adjust as well and spent more time in the most intensive level of care. Implications for program development and recommendations for further evaluation are discussed.


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