To determine changes in psychotropic medication use before and after juvenile justice incarceration, contrasting stays in long-stay commitment facilities and short-stay detention facilities.
Statewide administrative data (July 1, 1998, through June 30, 2003) from the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and Florida Medicaid. Medication prescriptions filled before entry and after release from facilities were determined based on paid claims. Psychotropic medication was categorized by drug class based on the National Drug Code.
General community services.
All of the Medicaid-enrolled youth aged 11 to 17 years identified as having a stay in a juvenile justice facility. The total sample included 67 819 detention stays and 59 918 commitment stays.
Incarceration in juvenile commitment and detention facilities.
Main Outcome Measure
Filled prescriptions for psychotropic medication by class 30
and 90 days before and after incarceration.
Ninety days prior to detention, 3666 youth (5.4%) had psychotropic drug claims. Among these, 2296 (62.6%) had any psychotropic medication claims in the 30 days after release. Among commitment cases, 29.6%
continued medication use after release. Onset of medication use after release from detention and commitment facilities was relatively uncommon (1.7% and 1.9%, respectively). Youth in commitment facilities were less likely than youth in detention facilities to resume their medication use across drug classes after 30 days (χ23 = 6.28; P = .04) and after 90 days (χ22 = 7.62; P = .02).
The results find greater support for a disruption effect than a discovery effect from incarceration. The findings suggest several areas for further investigation and improvement of services for incarcerated youth.