Substance Use and Mental Health DisordersSubstance use disorders among inmates are at epidemic proportions. Almost two-thirds (64.5 percent) of the inmate population in the U.S. (1.5 million) meet medical criteria for an alcohol or other drug use disorder. Prison and jail inmates are seven times likelier than are individuals in the general population to have a substance use disorder. One-third (32.9 percent) of the 2.3 million prison and jail inmates has a diagnosis of a mental illness. A quarter (24.4 percent) of prison and jail inmates has both a substance use disorder and a co-occurring mental health problem.*
The Treatment GapOf the 1.5 million prison and jail inmates who met clinical diagnostic criteria for a substance use disorder in 2006, only 11.2 percent had received any type of professional treatment since admission. Only 16.6 percent of facilities offer treatment in specialized settings which can produce better outcomes for offenders as measured by drug use and arrests post-release. Few inmates actually receive evidence-based services, including access to pharmacologicaltreatments, and the availability of highly trained staff is limited. Simply offering treatment, even in specialized settings, does not mean that the treatment is available to all who need it or of adequate quality.
Children of InmatesIn 2006, American prisons and jails held an estimated 1.0 million substance-involved parents with more than 2.2 million minor children; 73.7 percent (1.7 million) of these children are 12 year of age or younger. The minor children ofinmates are at a much higher risk of juvenile delinquency, adult criminality and substance misuse than are minor children of parents who have not been incarcerated.