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Women's Pathway to Jail

Women’s Pathways to Jail: Examining Mental Health, Trauma, and Substance Use By Shannon M. Lynch, Ph.D., Idaho State University; Dana D. DeHart, Ph.D., University of South Carolina; Joanne Belknap, Ph.D., University of Colorado; Bonnie L. Green, Ph.D., Georgetown University Study Introduction The rate of incarceration of women has increased substantially in recent decades, with a 31 percent increase between 2000 and 2011 (Minton, 2012). Female offenders appear to have different risk factors for offending than do male offenders. In particular, female offenders report greater incidence of mental health problems and serious mental illness (SMI) than do male offenders (James and Glaze, 2006; Steadman et al., 2009). Female offenders also report higher rates of substance dependence as well as greater incidence of past physical and sexual abuse (James and Glaze, 2006). Other researchers also have noted elevated rates of experiences of interpersonal trauma, substance dependence, and associated symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in female offenders (Green et al., 2005; Lynch et al., 2012). This multisite study addresses critical gaps in the literature by assessing the prevalence of SMI, PTSD, and substance use disorders (SUD) in women in jail, and the pathways to jail for women with and without SMI.

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