The Relationship Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminality in Juvenile Offenders

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Abstract

Objective:

To examine the relationship between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and criminal behavior in youth who are incarcerated or on probation in Texas.

Setting:

Seven juvenile justice facilities.

Participants:

Juvenile offenders in state or county correctional facilities or on probation.

Design:

Screening for TBI was conducted among adolescents at 7 juvenile justice centers.

Main Measures:

Participants were administered the Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire, and results were linked to participants' offense history and psychiatric diagnoses.

Results:

One in 4 juvenile offenders met criteria for TBI, and the majority of injuries occurred prior to the adolescents' criminal offenses. A history of TBI was related to more violent crimes, as well as more mental health diagnoses and symptoms.

Conclusion:

The high rates of TBI and levels of distress found in juvenile offenders suggest a need for preventive actions, interventions to compensate for challenges related to TBI, and programs to assist individuals' transitions into the community.

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