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Article
Use of Psychiatric Medications in Juvenile Detention Facilities and the Impact of State Placement Policy
Journal of Child and Family Studies (2014)
  • Edward Cohen
  • Jane E. Pfeiffer
  • Neal T. Wallace, Portland State University
Abstract
The use of psychotropic medications is a significant factor in the overall effort to respond to detained youth
with mental illness, yet there are very few studies of psychotropic medication use in juvenile detention settings.
It is important to understand the factors that influence the use of mental health services and psychoactive
medications in these settings since youth with emotional problems are overrepresented in them. This paper
addresses the proportion of youth in these settings who receive mental health services and psychoactive
medications. In addition, the impact of a major statewide policy change—the shift of juvenile placement
responsibility from the state to local government—on these proportions was examined using 8 years of
publicly available data from county probation departments. Multivariate regression analyses of 1,760
observations of quarterly reports from 55 counties showed that the use of both mental health services and
psychoactive medications in detention facilities increased concurrently with the policy change. While these
proportions had already been gradually increasing in these facilities, it appears that after the policy change
they increased even more. This contradicts the aim of most juvenile justice planners—to divert non-violent
youth offenders with emotional problems away from incarceration settings and towards community based
treatment alternatives. If adequately available, these support services could provide diversion alternatives to
prevent inappropriate detentions, and to provide post-detention treatment to prevent lapses in continuity of
care and, ultimately, to prevent reoffending.
Keywords
  • mental health services,
  • juvenile justice,
  • medications
Publication Date
Spring May, 2014
DOI
10.1007/s10826-012-9655-4
Citation Information
Edward Cohen, Jane E. Pfeiffer and Neal T. Wallace. "Use of Psychiatric Medications in Juvenile Detention Facilities and the Impact of State Placement Policy" Journal of Child and Family Studies Vol. 23 Iss. 4 (2014) p. 738 - 744
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/edward_cohen/34/