Understanding the Correlation Between Traumatic Brian Injuries and Youthful Offenders
Date:  11-07-2012

Report from England shows inmates have higher rate of TBI than general population
A recent article in the Guardian referred to a report done by Professor Huw Williams, Co-Director of the Centre for Clinical Neuropsychology Research (CCNR at the University of Exeter in England. The report can be read by clicking on the link at the end of this article. To read the article in the Guardian click here to go to website

The report, Repairing Shattered Lives: Brain Injury and its Implications for Criminal Justice, examines the correlation between Traumatic Brain Injury and crime, and reoffending. Findings, taken from the report, include:
  • There is growing evidence of links between incurring a TBI and subsequent offending. This indicates a need to reduce injuries and to manage consequences of injury to enable rehabilitation to be at its most effective;

  • There is compelling evidence of a very high prevalence rate of TBI in offenders in custody relative to the general population. Moreover, such injury may be linked to earlier and more frequent custodial sentences, and to more violent offending;

  • TBI in childhood and young adulthood may be particularly associated with offending behaviour. Earlier and more effective means to assess and manage the consequences of TBI in the offender population, and those at risk of offending, may lead to improved outcomes for affected individuals and for society.

    The report is divided into three sections:

    1. The brain, its functions, and brain injuries

    2. Traumatic Brain Injury and how it effects offending behavior

    3. A look on what can be done to better help young people with TBI and lower the risk of committing a crime

    One component of the report, titled Brain Injury and Criminal Justice concludes “Brain injury may lead to particular social problems, such as being less able to de-escalate threats, and acting without considering consequences of action. Moreover, it is likely that problems with attention, memory, and executive functions (neuropsychological sequelae) would limit capacity to fully engage in forensic rehabilitation to enable behaviour change, such as the ability to pay attention, remember, and follow through on advice about new ways to manage a problem situation.” This information can be very important when creating a discharge plan for a youthful offender, or when attempting to formulate the best treatment plan with the most effective results for a young person with TBI, hopefully before, rather than after, he or she enters the criminal justice system. The report offers studies from several countries that show a link between TBI in children and adolescents and the committing of violent crime later in life. The potential for reoffending was also discovered in the studies.

    While many studies pertaining to the correlation between TBI and criminal behavior focus primarily on males, the report points out that females also suffer from TBI:

    TBI has been shown to play a significant role in increasing the risk of offending in women. In a study of 113 female prisoners in the USA, Brewer- Smyth et al. [62] found that 42% had TBI histories, and those who had committed violent offences had suffered an average of two TBIs. Further analysis revealed that the number of years since their last episode of domestic abuse, the number of prior suicide attempts, and traumatic brain injuries with loss of consciousness, were significantly associated with current violent convictions.

    While the study addresses TBI and involvement in the criminal justice system among many groups of individuals, including veterans, and is not limited to any age group, the information regarding young people may be particularly helpful in identifying risks, and providing best practices for treatment and reducing the rate of reoffending.
  • Click here to read more.