Since deinstitutionalization of state hospitals began almost 50 years ago, there has been an increase in the population with mental illness seen in the prison system. A combination of factors were looked at when studying causes behind incarceration, including active symptoms of mental illness, socioeconomic status, social support systems, history of trauma, history of drug abuse, police education on mental illness, and public perspective on mental illness. This study is a literature review focusing on people with mental illness in the prison system, with particular attention to women.

It is costly to house inmates for any extended period of time. Specialized housing, needed for people requiring greater supervision, including those with mental illness, is particularly expansive. These funds were intended to go into community programs supporting those with mental illness after release from the institutions of the past. Without this support, many people with mental illness wind up homeless and turning to substance abuse, which leads to opportunities for incarceration. While further research is needed, there is evidence of promise shown in the combined efforts of increased case management and social support systems along with increased education of law enforcement officers on the symptoms and handling of cases of people with serious mental illness.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Dever, Kimberly


Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)


College of Nursing


Orlando (Main) Campus



Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Release Date