Jails may serve an important public health function by treating individuals with psychiatric problems. However, scholars debate the service qualities that can best achieve this aim. Some suggest the possibility of comprehensive psychiatric services in jails, while others recommend a narrower focus on basic elements of care (assessments, medication management, and crisis intervention). To date, this debate remains uninformed by service recipients. This qualitative study addresses this gap by illuminating patient-inmate perspectives on jail psychiatric services. Patient-inmate experiences indicate that the jail environment is incongruent with the provision of comprehensive psychiatric services. Thus, program administrators would best serve patient-inmates by strengthening basic services and connections to community-based providers who can provide comprehensive and effective care.

Leah A. Jacobs & Sequoia N. J. Giordano
Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, March 2018, Volume 45, Issue 2, 22 August 2017