Journal List > J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc > v.52(6) > 1017662

Park, Kim, and Lee: Mental Health Status of Prisoners in Correctional Institutions



The aim of this study was to identify mental health state of prisoners in correctional institutions and to develop strategies for improvement of the environment related to it.


This research included a total of 1700 inmates from three out of 50 prisons nationwide; Symptom Checklist-90-Revision (SCL-90-R), State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), the Korean Version of the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation, and cut down, annoy, guilty, eye-opener were applied. Additional questionnaires were employed for investigation of inmates' experience of violence within the correctional facilities and to examine utilization of mental health service before and after their admission to correctional facilities.


Fifteen percent of the participants attained SCL-90-R T-scores of 65 or higher, which suggested that these individuals had, or were at great risk of, mental illness. As the level of anger felt by the prisoners turned out to be lower than expected, BDI scores of 22 and higher were observed in 28.1% of the inmates, and 33.6% of the prisoners had suicidal ideation. In addition, 39.1% of the total inmates were diagnosed with alcohol abuse. Twenty-one percent of the prisoners were victimized in their correctional institutions; therefore, violence may be one of the potential factors leading to stress. However, only a small percentage of the inmates requested and received counseling as a help.


Mental health state among prisoners was serious and undesirable. This finding emphasizes the dire need for a system for regular assessment and improvement.

Figures and Tables

Table 1
Sociodemographic distribution of prisoners
Table 2
Means and standard deviations (SDs) of SCL-90-R and proportions of prisoners with mental health problems in male and female prisoners

SCL-90-R : Symptom Checklist-90-Revision, GSI : Global Severity Index

Table 3
Means and standard deviations (SDs) of STAXI-K in male and female prisoners

STAXI-K : The Korean adaptation of the State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory

Table 4
Means and standard deviations (SDs) of BDI, K-BSI, and numbers of higher than cut-off scores in BDI and of suicide-related behaviors in K-BSI among prisoners

BDI : Beck Depression Inventory, K-BSI : The Korean Version of the Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation

Table 5
Frequency of experience about violence in defenders and offenders in prison

Multiple answers to two questions are possible in "Emotional state after violence" and "Coping behavior after violence"

Table 6
Frequency of psychiatric service use experience before and after imprisonment

* : All questions are confined to inmates who had an experience of psychiatric treatment, : Multiple answers are possible in "type of treatment", : "Psychiatric diagnosis before imprisonment" is questioned to inmates who had an experience of psychiatric hospitalization


The authors have no financial conflicts of interest.


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