Understanding persons with mental illness who are and are not criminal justice involved: A comparison of criminal thinking and psychiatric symptoms

Nicole R. Gross, Robert D. Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research has begun to elucidate that persons with mental illness become involved in the criminal justice system as a result of criminality and not merely because of their mental illness. This study aims to clarify the similarities and differences in criminal thinking and psychiatric symptomatology between persons with mental illness who are and are not criminal justice involved. Male and female (n = 94) participants admitted to an acute psychiatric facility completed measures to assess criminal thinking (i.e., Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles and Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified) and psychiatric symptomatology (Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-Third Edition). In addition to the inpatient sample, 94 incarcerated persons with mental illness from a previously conducted study were selected based on their match with the current sample on several key demographic and psychiatric variables. The results of this study indicated that hospitalized persons with mental illness with a history of criminal justice involvement evidenced similar thinking styles to persons with mental illness who were incarcerated. Persons with mental illness without criminal justice involvement evidenced fewer thinking styles supportive of a criminal lifestyle than the incarcerated sample. Furthermore, the persons with mental illness sample with no history of criminal justice involvement showed significantly lower levels of psychopathology shown to be risk factors for criminal justice involvement (e.g., antisocial personality, drug dependence, alcohol dependence). These findings have implications for offender-type classification, development of targeted treatment interventions, and program placement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-186
Number of pages12
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Volume37
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Keywords

  • criminal justice involvement
  • criminal thinking
  • mental illness
  • offender

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