A prospective study of behavioral health indicators and repeat jail admissions among rural inmates [2019]

Approximately three quarters of a million adults are detained in US jails, and rural detention centers are responsible for the largest recent increases in this population. It is estimated that two thirds of jail inmates meet criteria for a substance use disorder (SUD), nearly half present symptoms consistent with a mental health condition (MHC), and the vast majority of adults in jails have been arrested and booked into these facilities in the past. It is critical to examine the link between SUDs, MHCs, and readmissions to help inform better approaches.

This prospective study examined the associations between SUDs, MHCs, and jail readmissions in a random sample of 224 adults collected from a rural correctional facility in North Carolina. The Comprehensive Addiction and Psychological Evaluation-5 (CAAPE-5) was administered to participants within 24 to 96 h of admission to the jail. Information consistent with DSM-5 designations for SUDs and several MHCs was evaluated in conjunction with 12-month jail readmission data.

Bivariate analyses demonstrated the disproportionality of SUDs and several MHCs (including depressive episode, posttraumatic stress, and antisocial personality) among adults who were readmitted to the jail. Binary multivariate logistic regression analyses showed SUDs nor MHCs to be associated with any jail readmissions, but multinomial regression results indicated SUDs were the most robust indicator of multiple 12-month jail readmissions.

Local jails need to implement systems capable of conducting behavioral health assessments, with a special focus on SUDs as one of the strongest indicators of readmission. This information will allow jail administrators to better manage detainees while they are incarcerated, but it can also enhance the ability to connect adults with appropriate programming options to address the condition and reduce the likelihood of reentering the detention center.

Albert M. Kopak, Kaitlin Guston, Lucas Maness & Norman G. Hoffmann
Health & Justice, volume 7, Article number: 5 (2019)