Criminal behavior of discharged mental patients: A critical appraisal of the research

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Because of continuing debate on the dangerousness of mental patients between mental health representatives and community members, a critical appraisal of the available evidence is presented. Epidemiological, prospective studies of arrests and convictions among discharged mental patients are compared with those evaluating arrests and convictions of the general public; changes over time are also examined. Patients with arrest records prior to hospitalization were found to have arrest rates after discharge that far exceeded those of the general public or of other patients. As the number of patients with prior records has increased over time, postdischarge rates for patients considered as a single group have increased accordingly, although patients without prior records continue to have postdischarge arrest rates equal to or lower than those of the general public. Implications for community psychiatry programs are discussed. (28 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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