Prevalence of traumatic brain injury and mental health problems among individuals within the criminal justice system

Written by McKinley A & Albicini M

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with increased aggression and antisocial behavior. This review examined existing literature regarding TBI prevalence and associated adverse mental health among individuals within the criminal justice system. TBI prevalence varied between 12 and 82% for youths, and 23 and 87% for adults. TBI was associated with a range of negative outcomes, particularly substance abuse. However, confounding factors, including differing control groups, lack of information for timing and severity of TBI, and use of self-report measures for TBI history made it difficult to determine whether TBI was a risk factor. Future research should eliminate or counter for these confounds, to provide accurate prevalence rates of TBI and the direction of association between TBI and offending behaviors.
A long history associating traumatic brain injury (TBI) with antisocial behavior exists. Therefore, it is not surprising that there is an increasing interest in defining the impact of TBI on the criminal justice system in terms of defining potential causal factors for the likelihood of initial offending, challenging behavior during incarceration and recidivism. Early reviews on the determinants of violence identified TBI as a predictor of delinquency [1]. Research regarding children and adults on death row reported a correlation between conviction and a history of TBI, finding that 100% of adults and 57% of children had evidence of TBI in their medical histories [2,3].

Read the full article here.


  1. Concussion