This important study conducted by Teplin et al. suggests substantial rates of psychiatric morbidity among incarcerated women.
The authors of this study found that the prevalence of behavioral health disorders among women in the criminal justice system is highly disproportionate to the rates found in the general population. They used the Diagnostic Interview Schedule to measure the 6-month prevalence rates of behavioral health disorders among 1,272 female jail detainees awaiting trial in Chicago and then examined whether or not their psychiatric disorder was associated with the severity of the arrest charges. They found that over 80% of women met criteria for one or more lifetime psychiatric disorders and 70% had experienced symptoms during the previous 6 months. Their findings showed that drug abuse or dependence, alcohol abuse or dependence, and post-traumatic stress disorder were the most common diagnoses. Major depressive episode was the most prevalent major mental disorder. They also concluded that most female detainees with psychiatric disorders were arrested for nonviolent crimes.