Offending by People with Intellectual Disabilities in Community Settings: A Preliminary Examination of Contextual Factors

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Abstract

Background

While several validated measures of the life circumstances of people with intellectual disabilities (ID) have been developed, this stream of research has not yet been well integrated with environmentally oriented criminological theory to explain offending among people with ID. In this study, we attempt to provide a preliminary integration through an investigation of the relationship between contemporary life experiences, well-being, choice and offending among people with ID, exploring the relevance of two classic criminological theories (theories of strain and social control).

Materials and Methods

Questionnaire measures were used to compare a range of ‘ordinary’ life experiences [the ‘Life Experiences Checklist’ (LEC)], subjective well-being (the ‘Personal Well-being Index – ID’) and the extent of choice (the ‘Choice Questionnaire’), between offenders (N = 27) and non-offenders (N = 19) with ID recruited through integrated (NHS and Local Authority) multi-disciplinary teams (community teams for adults with learning disabilities).

Results

Using regression analyses to explore the strength of associations with offending, it was found that an indicator of impoverished personal relationships, from the LEC provided the best predictor of offending. This finding appears to favour criminological explanations based on social control.

Conclusions

Existing measures of life circumstances can be used to explore environmentally oriented criminological theories, bringing benefits to our understanding and treatment of offenders with ID living in community settings.

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