People with traumatic brain injury approximately 2.5 times more likely to be incarcerated

Posted on December 12, 2016

Photo: flickr

“These findings contribute to emerging research suggesting traumatic brain injury is an important risk factor for involvement with the criminal justice system,” said lead author Dr. Flora Matheson of the Centre for Urban Health Solutions of St. Michael’s Hospital and an adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.

This study only focused on people with more serious TBI and people who may have served time in provincial, rather than federal jails were not included as well.

Authors highlighted that the overall risk of someone who has experienced TBI being incarcerated was still low, at less than five in 1,000, compared to less than two in 1,000 for people without a history of TBI. However, knowing that people who are incarcerated are much more likely to have experienced brain injury.

1.42 million adults ages 18-28 were eligible for health care in Ontario on July 1, 1997, and followed them to the end of 2011. The reason for this age group was because of its high risk of TBI and involvement in the criminal justice system.

Of the 77,519 people with a history of TBI, 402 were incarcerated during the 14- year period, a rate of 0.5 per cent. This was more than double the rate of people with no history of TBI (3,331 people out of 1,401,887, or 0.2 per cent).

Incarceration was 2.47 times higher in men who had sustained a TBI before being incarcerated in a federral correctional facility compared to men who had not.

For women, incarceration was 2.76 times higher for those who had suffered a TBI in comparison to women who did not suffer a TBI. However, the researchers did note that the number of incarcerated women with TBI was small — 17 of 210 incarcerated women.

The association between TBI and incarceration was found in Dr. Matheson’s (lead author of the Centre for Urban Health Solutions of St. Michael’s Hospital and an adjunct scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences) study rather than evidence that TBIs caused people to be incarcerated. It highlighted the fact that many people are being incarcerated with a potentially serious health issue.

A violent blow or jolt to the head or body leads to traumatic brain injury and it can also be resulted from an object penetrating the skull. Mild traumatic brain injury is often referred to a concussion.

Mild traumatic brain injury may cause temporary dysfunction of brain cells and more serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, and other physical damage to the brain that can result in long-term complications or death.

Dr. Matheson said this study was one of the largest of its kind, with 16 per cent more criminal justice events than reported previously, and was the first Canadian study to explore how TBI is associated with serious or chronic offending among people in federal custody. Another novel aspect was that the findings applied similarly to men and women, although she noted the number of women studied was small.

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Source material from Psy Post

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