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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 4: Access, utilization, and cost of services

4.13. How many jails provide essential mental health services?

In contrast to state prisons where inmates often stay for long periods of time, jails typically house people for short stays of 3 days or less, with most inmates leaving within 24 hours. Given that mental health treatment is not usually possible in such a short period, the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) defined four essential mental health services that are important for jails to provide: intake screening, evaluation, crisis intervention, and case management and discharge planning. CMHS used the 1993 Inventory of Local Jail Mental Health Services to assess how often jails provide these four essential mental health services. Among jails that provided any mental health services, slightly fewer than one-half (47%)* provided all four of the services. Larger facilities more often provided all of the essential services. Only about one-third of the smallest jails (Average Daily Population of less than 50 inmates) provided all essential mental health services. Among jails with at least 250 inmates on average each day, 75% or more provided all the essential mental health services.

Provision of essential mental health services varies by size of the jails.

Figure 32 (see data table for text-only version)

Figure 32: Percentage of jails providing 4 essential mental health services (screening, evaluation, crisis intervention, and case management) by Average Daily Population (ADP) of jails

Source: Goldstrom, Henderson, Male & Manderscheid (1998)

Surveys: Inventory of Local Jail Mental Health Services, 1993

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