Mental Health Status of Prisoners in Jail

교정기관 재소자들의 정신건강문제

  • 서진환 (성공회대학교 사회복지학과) ;
  • 이수정 (경기대학교 교양학부)
  • Published : 2000.11.30


It is recognized that one of the major issues in jail management is responding to the needs of a growing number of inmates with mental health problems. The purpose of this study was to assess the nature and severity of mental health problems among inmate population. The mental health status of 1,500 (1,337 responded) inmates of the 30 prisons located in nationwide area was examined using Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). And the scores on MMPI were examined in relation to some offender characteristics such as type of offence, treatment classification, frequence of discipline. The result indicates that the percentage of inmate population with scores over 70 on every sub-categories of the scale is higher than that of general populations reflecting high rate of deviation from average normal mental health. It seems likely that many of inmates are in need of specific mental health treatment services. The nature and severity of mental health problems varies depending on offender characteristics above mentioned. It is also notable that the inmates are heterogeneous in terms of mental health status, and that severe offences such as robbery, assault, and rape or sexual assault are highly related to the scores on 'antisocial' sub category. The study also reveals that there is a relation, if not causal, between mental health problem and frequency of discipline while in prison. Under basis of these findings, this study concludes that a number of inmates in our prison have mental health problems requiring mental health treatment services and suggests five key steps to effectively respond to the prevalence of mental health problems in prison at both the level of the clinical interventions and at the level of system structure and organization. Specially, the importance of collaborative service strategies of the correctional system with mental health systems are underlined.