Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Community Care Not to Blame for Increased Offending among the Mentally Ill

Academic journal article Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Community Care Not to Blame for Increased Offending among the Mentally Ill

Article excerpt

The widespread shift in industrialized countries towards community, care for people with schizophrenia is not responsible for an increased rate of criminal convictions in this group over the past 20 years, researchers conclude. Instead, the rise in convictions has been matched by a similar increase in offending in the general population. Paul Mullen of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Mental Health, in Fairfield, Victoria, Australia, and colleagues studied two groups of people with schizophrenia. The first group had all been admitted for first treatment in Victoria before 1975, when institutional care was widespread, the second in 1985, when community care was "becoming the norm". Each patient was matched by age, sex and place of residence to a control in the community.

In line with other evidence, people with schizophrenia were more likely than controls to be convicted of most criminal offences, and schizophrenic men who had been admitted in 1985 committed more offences than those admitted before 1975. However, there was a similar increase in offending among the community controls. Schizophrenic patients who had also been treated for substance abuse were responsible for a disproportionately high proportion of the offences recorded in this population. …

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