Suicide rates in prisoners are considerably higher than in the general population, both in the United States and the United Kingdom and internationally. In the United States, the rate of suicide in jails is estimated to be 8 times higher than in the general population, and in England and Wales, the age-standardized rate of suicide among all male prisoners is 5 times higher than in the general population - a proportionate excess that has been increasing since 1978. In addition, these rates remain high after leaving prison - a recent study of all inmates released in 1 U.S state found an increased suicide risk 3- to 4- fold higher than in the general population after adjustment for age, sex, and race.

1st November 2008 • comment

Adolescents younger than 19 years constitute 5% of all those detained in custody in Western countries, including about 100,000 individuals in the United States. They are usually detained in separate closed facilities or prisons. High prevalence of both undiagnosed and untreated physical and mental health problems have been reported, with current mental disorders estimated to affect 40% to 70% of the adolescents who come into contact with the justice system. Deliberate self-harm and repeat offending are common,and some of these disorders, such as substance misuse and conduct disorder, are risk factors for criminal recidivism. In the United States and the United Kingdom, it has been argued that there is insufficient screening for mental disorders, that sentencing does not account for mental health issues, and that custodial and secure facilities lack qualified staff and appropriate treatment.

1st September 2008 • comment