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More Than 50% of Women on Parole or Probation Have Mental Illness

In a report which underscores the very real need for mental health services in the criminal justice system, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) says that about 50% of women on parole or on probation have experienced mental illness within the last year.

According to SAMHSA, women in the criminal justice system experience extremely high rates of mental illness.

Taking data from the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the report ‘Data Spotlight: Half of Women on Probation or Parole Experience Mental Illness’ reveals that within 12 months of being asked:

  • 49.4% of women on probation and 54.2% of women on parole had experienced mental illness. This is about double the rate seen among women in the general population (27.5%)
  • 21.5% of women on probation and 28.5% of women on parole had experienced serious mental illness, which is defined as mental illness which substantially limits a person’s ability to participate in normal life activities. This is roughly 3 times higher than the rate seem among women in the general population (7.8%)

Commenting on the report’s statistics, SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde noted, “This report highlights the very real need for providing better behavioral healthcare for women emerging from the criminal justice system. Providing these services not only meets a vital public health need, but is a very sound investment since it can prevent many at-risk women from returning to the criminal justice system. Since women play a vital role in families, schools, business, and government, the recovery of women to productive lives can have an enormous positive impact on America’s communities.”

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