Friday, September 11, 2015

RESEARCH: Ex-Inmates with Serious Mental Illness More Likely to be Violent

(Sept. 8, 2015) Former prisoners with psychiatric disorders or substance abuse are “substantially more likely” to commit a violent crime after release than other prisoners, according to a new study published in Lancet.
mental-illness-and-crimeThere could be 1 million fewer violent crimes a year in the US if prisoners with these conditions received better health care behind bars and after release to the community, the research team said.
“One in seven prisoners have a psychotic illness or major depression and around one in five enter prison with clinically significant substance abuse disorders,” Seena Fazel, lead author and professor of forensic psychiatry at the University of Oxford in the UK, commented after publication of the article.
“As these disorders are common and mostly treatable, better screening and mental health services before and after release are essential to prevent future violence and improve both public health and safety.”
Men diagnosed with psychiatric disorders were “potentially responsible” for up to 20% of violent offenses among males released from prison; women ex-inmates were linked to 40% of violent offenses among females released (“Long-term study links common psychiatric disorders with increased risk of violent reoffending in ex-prisoners,” Sept. 3, 2015).
All psychiatric diagnoses were found to be associated with an increased rate of re-offending after release, but six psychiatric diagnoses – including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance abuse – carried the highest risk. Former prisoners with mental health issues also were found to re-offend much sooner after release than other ex-inmates.
Providing appropriate treatment for inmates was the number one recommendation of our 2014 study, “The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Jails and Prisons.” 
“Just as inmates should be treated for tuberculosis, diabetes, and hypertension, so also should they be treated for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression,” the Treatment Advocacy Center report said.
The study by the team led by Fazel was based on nearly 48,000 ex-inmates released in Sweden from January 1, 2000, through December 31, 2009.
Fazel focused on the relationship between mental illness and violent crime, the mental health of prisoners, and violence risk assessment. In September 2014, Lancet reported on his study of the relationship of antipsychotic medications, mood stabilizers and the risk of violent crime.
(Photo: [AndreasS]/Flickr)
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