Role of Gender, Substance Use, and Serious Mental Illness in Anticipated Postjail Homelessness
Lauren Fries, Gina Fedock and Sheryl Pimlott Kubiak
Social Work Research
June 3, 2014
Incarcerated individuals, particularly women, experience high rates of mental health and substance use disorders, potentially placing them at an increased risk for homelessness. This study examined factors associated with anticipated postjail homelessness among men and women (N = 725) incarcerated in an urban county jail. Participants were categorized into three groups on the basis of scores of screening measures for substance misuse and mental illness: (1) substance use disorder only, (2) serious mental illness or co-occurring substance use disorder (SMI/COD), and (3) no disorder. Gender differences within the three groups were examined, and logistic regressions were used to assess factors associated with anticipated postjail homelessness. Women were more likely than men to be homeless prejail and present with a serious mental illness, a substance use disorder, or both. SMI/COD and gender, but not substance use disorder only, were significantly associated with anticipated postjail homelessness. Women were twice as likely as men to anticipate postjail homelessness. Results display the complexity of service needs among women in the criminal justice system and support the need for services that address mental illness and substance use within the jail setting to reduce long-term homelessness.