Race/ethnic disparities in the utilization of treatment for drug dependent inmates in U.S. State correctional facilities

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Research has documented racial and ethnic disparities in utilization, access, continuity, and quality of care for psychiatric disorders including treatment for substance use disorders among those with similar need in the general community. Currently, the extent of racial and ethnic disparities in treatment within U.S. correctional facilities is unknown. Methods: This study examines race/ethnic disparities in treatment for drug dependent inmates using the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities. Fixed effects logistic regression is used to analyze treatment outcomes for 5180 inmates housed within 286 prisons. The analysis accounts for differences in background characteristics (i.e., age, gender, marital status, foreign born status, veteran status), socioeconomic characteristics (i.e., education, employment prior to incarceration), mental health (i.e., diagnosis with a serious mental illness), and incarceration experiences (i.e., current conviction, previous incarceration episodes, time served, additional sentencing requirements, external social support, disciplinary violations). Results: The findings identify a remarkable unmet need among drug dependent inmates in that less than one-half of drug dependent inmates had received any type of treatment in prison at the time of the interview with the most common treatment type being self-help groups. Compared to whites, drug dependent Latino inmates have significantly lower odds of utilizing treatment, yet there are no significant black--white disparities found. Conclusion: The current study suggests that treatment for drug dependent inmates needs to be expanded to include clinically or medically based treatment since the failure to address addictions in the criminal legal system has been identified as the single most significant reason for rearrest and recidivism once released.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-153
Number of pages6
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Drug dependence
  • Prison
  • Prisoners
  • Race disparities
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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