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Assaults and Mental Health Treatment in U.S. Jails

Weich, Leah Heather (2021) Assaults and Mental Health Treatment in U.S. Jails. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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Inmates with serious mental illness (SMI) are significantly more likely than those without SMI to receive assault charges against staff or other inmates while they are in jail. Although mental health treatment has been shown to reduce the risk of violence in people with SMI in community samples, no research has distinguished the effectiveness of different types of mental health treatment in reducing the risk of jail-based assaults. The aim of the proposed study is to address this significant void in literature by investigating whether the risk of assaulting staff and other inmates in jail depends on mental health status and treatment. Using cross-sectional data collected in the National Inmate Survey of 2011-2012 from 52,926 adult jail inmates in the United States, logistic regression was used to investigate the likelihood of assault among mental health status groups: no indication of a mental illness, untreated SMI, SMI treated with medication, SMI treated with counseling, and SMI treated with medication and therapy. The full model contradicted the primary hypothesis and two of the four secondary hypotheses, revealing that (1) the medication group reported more assaults than the untreated participants, (2) the untreated group reported fewer assaults than any of the treated groups, and (3) that risk of assault did not significantly differ when compared to medication or combined treatment. Two of the secondary hypotheses were supported in the full model, suggesting that (1) having no indication of SMI protects inmates from assaults in jails, and (2) the combination treatment with medication and therapy among inmates with SMI is a stronger risk factor for assaults than medication alone. However, exploratory analyses indicated that different patterns may emerge when specifically observing assault risk within subgroups by time incarcerated, as well as time incarcerated by race/ethnicity and gender. Based on these results and the limitations of the current study, it is recommended that future research should further investigate assaults by mental health treatment within these subgroups and attempt to establish the temporal ordering of the mental health treatment-assault relationship.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: correctional violence; inmate assault; jail; mental health treatment; psychiatric treatment; serious mental illness
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
MeSH Subjects: F Psychiatry and Psychology > F03 Mental Disorders
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Social and Behavioral Science > Psychological Sciences
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2022 17:52
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 17:52
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5705

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