ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Offenders

By Westmoreland, Patricia | Corrections Today, June 2010 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Offenders

Westmoreland, Patricia, Corrections Today

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder whose cardinal symptoms are inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. The current diagnostic criteria for ADHD note that at least six symptoms in the categories of inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity must be present for six months or longer. (1) The symptoms must be present before age 7, and other psychiatric and medical causes for the symptoms must have been ruled out. The symptoms of ADHD are indicative of impairment in the brain's ability to process and organize information so as to respond appropriately to the external environment.

Both frontal and subcortical areas of the brain are thought to be involved in producing the symptoms. Imaging studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have found abnormalities in the structure and function of the brain in these areas. A study that used MRI to measure the volumes of brain structures found that, in comparison to children without ADHD, children with ADHD had smaller volumes of the frontal cortex, subcortical region and cerebellum; these differences persisted as the children grew older. (2) In addition, studies of brain function (using Positron Emission Tomography, PET, and functional MRI) are consistent in showing malfunctions in the frontal and subcortical regions in patients with ADHD. An imbalance in dopamine and noradrenaline are among the neurochemical abnormalities that may be responsible for these abnormalities in function. Medications for ADHD are thought to work by correcting abnormalities in these pathways. (3)

Risk and Prevalence of ADHD

The risk for ADHD is increased two- to eight-fold in parents of children with ADHD and siblings of children with ADHD. (4) In addition to genetic influences, environmental factors are thought to play a role in the development of ADHD. Risk factors include maternal smoking and alcohol consumption during pregnancy, low birth weight, severe psychological stressors during pregnancy, and obstetrical complications in pregnancy and delivery.

ADHD is the most commonly diagnosed behavioral disorder in youths, with an estimated prevalence of 7 percent, affecting boys three times more often than girls. (5) The disorder is persistent for many people--only 10 percent of children with ADHD achieve full remission in adulthood, while 30 to 70 percent continue to have significant symptoms. (6) The estimated prevalence of ADHD in adults is 4.4.(7) It has been reported that the rates of hyperactivity and impulsivity decline with age and that inattention is the most common persistent symptom in adults, (8) although motor hyperactivity and impulsivity often persist. Additional symptoms include disorganization and problems with controlling emotions. Those patients whose ADHD persists into adulthood are less likely to reach their academic potential, are more likely to have vocational and marital problems, and are at risk for a greater number of (and more serious) motor vehicle accidents. (9) Comorbidity has been reported with other mental illnesses, including mood, anxiety and substance use disorders. (10) Risk of suicide is also increased. (11)

Criminality and ADHD

Childhood ADHD is a stronger predictor than conduct disorder of adult disruptive behavior, arrests, jail stays and felony convictions. (12) Persistence of ADHD into early adulthood is associated with truancy, aggression and delinquency, as well as the development of antisocial and other personality disorders. (13) Predictors of criminality in ADHD include multiple juvenile arrests, arrests for felony crimes in adolescence and incarceration. (14) Recent studies of ADHD in the prison population have shown that 20 percent to 40 percent of inmates meet criteria for adult ADHD, and perhaps as many as an additional 16 percent have subthreshold symptoms. (15)

Study of ADHD in Iowa Department of Corrections Reception Offenders

In order to assess the prevalence of ADHD in offenders newly admitted to the Iowa Department of Corrections (IDOC), clinical characteristics, psychiatric comorbidity and quality of life for these offenders were studied.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in Offenders


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?