Inmates use of rehabilitative and mental health services at a county jail

Meghan A. Estey (2008)

The criminal justice system is one in which most people wish not to be involved. There are three types of correctional facilities: federal prisons, state prisons, and county jails. Prisons have set standards in place regarding rehabilitation and mental health services. On the other hand, jails have the responsibility to set the standards for rehabilitative programming in each jail. In general, county jails have a difficult time offering these services due to insufficient funding and lack of knowledge about which specific services, proven to be effective in the rehabilitative process, would be utilized by inmates. To complicate this further, jails have been faced with providing services to an increased population of those with mental illness. The focus of this dissertation project has been to gather and provide a county jail with information about those mental health and rehabilitative services which inmates' utilize and believe they would participate in if provided. This in turn would aid the county jail in providing more effective services and programs to the inmates. To frame the investigation to an application on the local level, action research methodology was employed. A questionnaire was administered in a group format to all inmates at a county jail in southwestern New Hampshire. The questionnaire was designed to ask inmates about their use of programs and services currently provided by the jail and to inquire about possible programs and service not presently offered. It was anticipated that the activity of the investigation would empower the inmates in their involvement in programs and services; and, by having a collaborative effort with inmates and staff in the research process, there would be an impact in the services provided by the jail. The results indicate that 75 % of inmates utilize the programs and services provided by the jail. Fifty percent of inmates think that rehabilitative services and programs can lower their Inmates rates of recidivism and 70% reported that these programs and services could help them be a better person. The findings regarding these inmates' utilization of current programs and interest in potential programs have implications for programming at the jail, public policy, and future research.