Academic journal article Best Practices in Mental Health

Characteristics of Adult Offenders with Developmental Disabilities in Large Urban Environments

Academic journal article Best Practices in Mental Health

Characteristics of Adult Offenders with Developmental Disabilities in Large Urban Environments

Article excerpt

Service delivery in the field of mental health and developmental disabilities is a challenging mission due to the various conditions and legal statuses of the individuals diagnosed with these disabilities. The large number of people experiencing these behavioral health problems exacerbates the challenges inherent to this mission. In effect, in 2010, approximately 56.7 million people living in the United States had some kind of disability (Brault, 2012). This population has been classified into mental, communicative, or physical domains. The 2010 U.S Census revealed that 1.3 million adults had a disability or disabilities for which a domain was not identified, about 15.7 million adults had disabilities in the communicative domain alone or in combination with other domains, 16.8 million adults had disabilities in the mental domain, and 41.5 million adults had disabilities in the physical domain (Brault, 2012). These overlapping statistics illustrate the complexity of the process of identifying and classifying adults with developmental disabilities. Therefore, field professionals who are required to provide services to this population are using the concept of individuals with developmental disabilities (IDD) to address this population.

It is important to distinguish the differences between the concepts of mental illness, mental retardation, and the more currently used term intellectual developmental disability. Nichols, Bench, Morlok, and Liston (2003) discussed the differences between mental illness and mental retardation:

The term mentally ill is often confused with mental retardation but an important distinction exists. Those who are mentally ill suffer from brain dysfunctions that include disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, which are often treatable with medication such as Prozac and Clozarill. Unlike mental illness, retardation is not treatable with medication, but those who have this condition can learn skills and coping mechanisms that allow them to lead more satisfactory lives. (p. 119)

Briefly stated, mental illness is treatable, whereas mental retardation is not. However, individuals with mental retardation, like individuals with mental illness, can learn skills. Chueng (2013) suggested a national standard model for defining intellectual disabilities and establishing a standard of proof that is a combination of the definitions of intellectual disability by the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) and the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in its new DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Developmental Disabilities, 5th edition; APA, 2013). In addition, this model would eliminate the age eighteen onset requirement and a fixed IQ cutoff score and recommend guidelines for adaptive behavior evidence, judge decisions and jury verdicts, standards for testifying experts, and the burden of proof.

Because this study's focus was Ohio, the Ohio Revised Code section 5126.01((51 Ohio Revised Code, 2014), which mandates programs and services for individuals with development disabilities, was used to define developmental disability. Developmental disability is defined as a severe, chronic disability that is attributable to a mental or physical impairment or a combination of mental and physical impairments (other than a mental or physical impairment solely caused by mental illness as defined in division A of section 5122.01 of the Revised Code), it is manifested before age twenty-two, and it is likely to continue indefinitely.

Due to a variety of circumstances, conditions, and activities, individuals with developmental disabilities end up getting involved with the court system. According to the Association for Retarded Citizens of New Jersey (ARCNJ; 2014) the average IQ in prison was 90, with a range of 50 to 150. Additionally, IQ was found to be a protective factor for prison misconduct. The ARCNJ estimated that approximately 2 to 10 percent of offenders in the criminal justice system had some form of developmental disability. …

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