More Than 60% of Female Inmates in Canadian Prisons are Prescribed Psychiatric Medication


The average rate of female prisoners in Canada’s prison system who receive psychiatric medication has jumped from 42% in 2001 to over 60% today, with some regions prescribing psych meds at a rate of up to 75%, according to a joint investigation by the Canadian Press and the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.  Former prisoners and their advocates have been complaining for years about the overmedication of inmates, with Seroquel –  a powerful antipsychotic — routinely being prescribed to female prisoners as a sleeping aid.

Majority of women inmates on psychiatric meds; probe launched (Herald News)
Powerful psychotropic drug used in Canada’s federal prisons (Times Colonist)
Powerful antipsychotic drug Seroquel used in Canada’s federal prisons (The Star)
Prisoners given powerful drugs off-label, allegedly to ‘control behavior’ (CBC News)

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Terrible. Bureaucracies demand statistics for changes which they don’t want to make, but no stats are collected where there is no incentive. Prison conditions surely contribute to the sleep problems for which addictive and debilitating psychotics are used. Lousy food and malnutrition alone can make you miserable and sleepless and may have contributed to school failure , crime , etc in the first place. My biggest hunch is that sleepy , drugged up inmates is just what prisons want.

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