Does psychiatric disorder predict violent crime among released jail detainees? A six-year longitudinal study

Am Psychol. 1994 Apr;49(4):335-42. doi: 10.1037//0003-066x.49.4.335.


The authors examined whether jail detainees with schizophrenia, major affective disorders, alcohol or drug use disorders, or psychotic symptoms (hallucinations and delusions) are arrested more often for violent crimes six years after release than detainees with no disorders. Trained interviewers assessed 728 randomly selected male jail detainees using the National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule and then obtained follow-up arrest data for six years. Neither severe mental disorder nor substance abuse or dependence predicted the probability of arrest or the number of arrests for violent crime. Persons with symptoms of both hallucinations and delusions had a slightly higher number of arrests for violent crime, but not significantly so. These findings held even after controlling for prior violence and age. The findings do not support the stereotype that mentally ill criminals invariably commit violent crimes after they are released. Future directions for research are suggested.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Chicago / epidemiology
  • Crime* / statistics & numerical data
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychotic Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Violence*