Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mental illness not usually linked to crime, research finds

Date:
April 21, 2014
Source:
American Psychological Association (APA)
Summary:
In a study of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders, only 7.5 percent were directly related to symptoms of mental illness, according to new research. Researchers analyzed 429 crimes committed by 143 offenders with three major types of mental illness and found that 3 percent of their crimes were directly related to symptoms of major depression, 4 percent to symptoms of schizophrenia disorders and 10 percent to symptoms of bipolar disorder.

In a study of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders, only 7.5 percent were directly related to symptoms of mental illness, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Researchers analyzed 429 crimes committed by 143 offenders with three major types of mental illness and found that 3 percent of their crimes were directly related to symptoms of major depression, 4 percent to symptoms of schizophrenia disorders and 10 percent to symptoms of bipolar disorder.

"When we hear about crimes committed by people with mental illness, they tend to be big headline-making crimes so they get stuck in people's heads," said lead researcher Jillian Peterson, PhD. "The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, not criminal and not dangerous."

The study was conducted with former defendants of a mental health court in Minneapolis. The participants completed a two-hour interview about their criminal history and mental health symptoms, covering an average of 15 years. The study, published online in the APA journal Law and Human Behavior, may be the first to analyze the connection between crime and mental illness symptoms for offenders over an extended period of their lives, said Peterson, a psychology professor at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minn.

The study didn't find any predictable patterns linking criminal conduct and mental illness symptoms over time. Two-thirds of the offenders who had committed crimes directly related to their mental illness symptoms also had committed unrelated crimes for other reasons, such as poverty, unemployment, homelessness and substance abuse, according to the research. "Is there a small group of people with mental illness committing crimes again and again because of their symptoms? We didn't find that in this study," Peterson said.

In the United States, more than 1.2 million people with mental illness are incarcerated in jails or prisons, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. People with mental illnesses also are on probation or parole at two to four times the rate for the general population.

In addition to interviews with offenders, the researchers reviewed criminal history and social worker files to help rate crimes based on their association with symptoms of schizophrenia disorders (hallucinations and delusions), bipolar disorder (impulsivity and risk-taking behavior) or major depression (hopelessness and suicidal thoughts). The ratings were: no relationship between mental illness symptoms and the crime, mostly unrelated, mostly related or directly related.

A crime could be rated as mostly unrelated or mostly related to mental illness symptoms if those symptoms contributed to the cause of the crime but weren't solely responsible for it. For example, an offender with schizophrenia who was agitated because he heard voices earlier in the day later got into a bar fight, but he wasn't hearing voices at the time of the altercation, so the crime was categorized as mostly related.

When the directly related and mostly related categories were combined, the percentage of crimes attributed to mental illness symptoms increased from 7.5 percent to 18 percent, or less than one in five of the crimes analyzed in the study. Of crimes committed by participants with bipolar disorder, 62 percent were directly or mostly related to symptoms, compared with 23 percent for schizophrenia and 15 percent for depression. Some participants may have described their mood as "manic" during a crime even though they could have just been angry or abusing drugs or alcohol, so the percentage of crimes attributed to bipolar disorder may be inflated, Peterson said. Almost two-thirds of the study participants were male, with an average age of 40. They were evenly divided between white and black offenders (42 percent each, 16 percent other races), and 85 percent had substance abuse disorders. The study did not include offenders with serious violent offenses because the mental health court did not adjudicate those crimes, but the participants did describe other violent crimes they had committed. The study also did not examine how substance abuse interacted with mental illness to influence criminal behavior.

The researchers said programs designed to reduce recidivism for mentally ill offenders should be expanded beyond mental health treatment to include cognitive-behavioral treatment about criminal thinking, anger management and other behavioral issues. Programs to address basic needs also are essential to reduce recidivism for all offenders after incarceration, including drug treatment and housing and employment support, Peterson said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Psychological Association (APA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jillian K. Peterson, Jennifer Skeem, Patrick Kennealy, Beth Bray, Andrea Zvonkovic. How often and how consistently do symptoms directly precede criminal behavior among offenders with mental illness? Law and Human Behavior, 2014; DOI: 10.1037/lhb0000075

Cite This Page:

American Psychological Association (APA). "Mental illness not usually linked to crime, research finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421102327.htm>.
American Psychological Association (APA). (2014, April 21). Mental illness not usually linked to crime, research finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421102327.htm
American Psychological Association (APA). "Mental illness not usually linked to crime, research finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140421102327.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

First Confirmed Case Of Google Glass Addiction

Buzz60 (Oct. 15, 2014) A Google Glass user was treated for Internet Addiction Disorder caused from overuse of the device. Morgan Manousos (@MorganManousos) has the details on how many hours he spent wearing the glasses, and what his symptoms were. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins