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Publication Medical Problems of Inmates, 1997

Allen J. Beck, Ph.D., Laura M. Maruschak

January 1, 2001    NCJ 181644

Presents survey data on State and Federal offenders in prison who reported a medical problem since admission or a physical impairment or mental condition. The prevalence of specific medical problems and medical conditions is also included. The report examines medical problems and other conditions by gender, age, and time served since admission. Findings are based on self-reported data from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities.


  • 12% of State inmates and nearly 6% of Federal inmates reported having a learning or speech disability.
  • 21% of State inmates and 22% of Federal inmates said they had a medical problem (excluding injury) after admission; 7% and 10%, respectively, said they had a medical problem that required surgery.
  • Nearly half of State inmates who had served 6 or more years said they had been injured after admission. Fewer than 20% of those in prison less than 2 years reported an injury.
  • 40% of State inmates and 48% of Federal inmates age 45 or older said they had had a medical problem since admission to prison.

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