From the moment of their admission to prison, offenders with mental illness represent a population with special service needs. From this services perspective, the present study draws population estimates of mental illness indicators for newly committed offenders using operational data sources available within a correctional system. In a cohort of 2,855 male and female offenders across three security levels and five regions of the United States, several indicators of mental illness (e.g., diagnosis of serious mental illness, inpatient psychiatric care) were aggregated. Findings suggest that 15.2% of newly committed offenders at low-, medium-, and high-security facilities may require some level of mental health services to address a need related to mental illness. Prevalence rates differed between gender and between lower versus medium or high security levels. Implications informing the work of clinicians, administrators, and policy makers are discussed. Future research developing additive models estimating service need among other components of corrections populations is recommended.
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