To identify community reentry needs, this study examined mental illness, substance dependence, and other correlates of reincarceration in an ethnically diverse, rural population of women prisoners.
A purposive, cross-sectional sample of 98 women in a New Mexico state prison completed structured interviews. Analyses examined associations of substance dependence, mental illness, lifetime trauma, and sociodemographic variables with previous incarceration.
Eighty-five percent screened positive for substance dependence, 50% for current mental disorders, and 46% for both. Exposure to trauma was pervasive (100%), especially physical or sexual trauma (83%). In adjusted analyses, previous incarceration was associated with precarious housing before imprisonment (odds ratio [OR]=2.19, p=.038) and with having co-occurring mental illness and substance dependence (OR=2.68, p=.019).
Findings support those of similar studies in urban areas and with other ethnic groups. Wraparound programs focusing on harm reduction, housing, and treatment and support services are needed for successful reentry of these underserved women.