Prevalence and Correlates of Criminal Behavior Among the Non-institutionalized Elderly: Results From the National Survey on Drug Use and Health

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Abstract

Objectives:

First to explore the prevalence of criminal behavior committed by the non-institutionalized geriatric American population. Second to determine the correlates of criminal behavior among this population.

Methods:

We used data of the non-institutionalized adults aged ≥65 years in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008 through 2014. We compared socio-demographic and mental health profiles of arrestees to non-arrestees and lawbreakers to non-lawbreakers and then determined the correlates of being arrested and breaking the law through regression analyses.

Results:

Around 0.4% of the population reported being arrested, and 5% reported breaking the law in the past year. The most prevalent offense was driving while intoxicated. Arrestees were significantly more likely to be male and to have had an alcohol or a drug(s) use disorder in the past year. Lawbreakers had a significant likelihood of being male, having a high educational level, and having an alcohol or a drug(s) use disorder in the past year.

Conclusions:

Elderly lawbreakers seem to have distinct characteristics that not just separate them from non-offenders but also probably from younger lawbreakers.

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