Screening prison inmates for mental disorder: an examination of the relationship
between mental disorder and prison adjustment.
F. DiCataldo, A. Greer and W. E. Profit,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
23(4): 573-85, 1995.
The rapidly expanding population of prison inmates has severely challenged the prison system's
ability to effectively screen incoming inmates for mental disorders and mental health service needs.
This study describes a comprehensive mental health screening of inmates at a maximum security
prison, using a modified version of the Referral Decision Scale (RDS), a screening measure
developed from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule. Modified items and adjusted cut-off scores were
used in order to reduce the rate of false positives. Survey results indicate that this modified version
of the RDS may be an effective screening measure for correctional settings. Subjects who were
positive on the RDS were compared to negative subjects on a variety of offense and prison
adjustment variables. Findings indicate that while subjects who were positive on the RDS
experienced some initial adjustment problems within the prison, they were generally not found to
be involved in an elevated rate of prison violence and were not more often remanded to disciplinary
units than those subjects who were negative on the RDS.