Honors Program

Honors in Criminal Justice and Criminology

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Nicole Prior

Thesis Professor Department

Criminal Justice and Criminology

Thesis Reader(s)

Jennifer Pealer, Kittye Hirsch


Females are becoming a prominent population within America’s correctional facilities, which has led to incarcerated females increasingly becoming the popular subjects of more recent research. Along with the growing population of female inmates, the rates of sexual and physical victimization reported by incarcerated females is rapidly growing. The purpose of this project is to evaluate the pre-established correlation between mental health diagnoses, and the prior physical and/or sexual abuse of female inmates within the custody of correctional institutions, outline the current treatment process, and devise a revision of the treatment process in order to improve the future of mental health care for incarcerated females. First, a brief description of the increasing female inmate population, their significant mental health care needs, and the lack of effective mental health care they are actually receiving, followed by the issues that this poses to rehabilitation and the community will be provided. Second, an examination of the commonality of childhood physical and/or sexual abuse among the female offenders that have been diagnosed with mental illnesses will be conducted. Next, a discussion of the most common mental health diagnoses of incarcerated women, what they are said to be caused by, and how they are being treated behind bars will be directed. Finally, a conclusion covering the established relationship between physical and sexual abuse and adult mental illnesses, the issues that the lack of adequate mental health care for incarcerated females poses, and what can be done to change and improve the future will be presented.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.