Mental Health Diagnoses and Recidivism in Paroled Offenders
Jeffrey Abracen, Calvin M. Langton, Jan Looman, Alessandra Gallo, Meaghan Ferguson, Marsha Axford, R. Dickey
International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Although the issue of mental illness among offender populations has received attention in the last number of years, there are a number of issues related to mental illness among such groups that require more study. One such topic relates to the association between mental illness, actuarially assessed risk of recidivism, and observed rates of reoffending. In the present investigation, file information was reviewed to determine the presence of a variety of mental health conditions. Actuarially based risk assessment data were also collected for participants as well as information regarding suspension, new charges, and convictions. A sample of 136 offenders housed in a halfway house operated by Correctional Service of Canada was included in the present investigation. Results indicated very high rates of serious mental illness in this high-risk population. Offenders with borderline personality disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder were significantly more likely to recidivate or be suspended. Suspensions refer to administrative decisions to place an offender in jail due to problematic behaviour (typically involving a breach of his release conditions or new charges/convictions). Offenders with a diagnosis of paraphilic disorder were significantly less likely to recidivate or be suspended. Results are discussed in light of the available literature.