The number of women in Colorado prisons diagnosed with psychological disorders has risen sharply to more than twice the level of male prisoners, reports the Denver Post. The women are almost without exception victims of severe sexual and physical abuse. They cycle through jail and prison, often because they don’t get adequate treatment or community support. “The trauma histories are extreme,” said Theresa Stone, chief of mental health at Denver Women’s Correctional Facility. “It’s hard to hear what these women have been through.”
While most women are incarcerated for nonviolent crimes, a certain percentage of them are committing increasingly violent acts, she said. “Women are in many cases extremely violent,” she said. “I think we’re seeing the impact of abuse and mental illness.” State prisons have made great strides in diagnosing and addressing the needs of mentally ill women, Stone said. There is drug counseling, psychological treatment, and group therapy. In 2001, a review determined that 39 percent of women incarcerated in Colorado were diagnosed with some type of mental illness. A Dec. 31 report says that 67 percent of them are mentally ill.