Mental Illness as a Predictor of Crime and Recidivism

A mental illness may be deemed present when an individual demonstrates a pattern of abnormal thoughts, emotions, or behaviors that causes significant impairment or distress. Crime and recidivism (i.e., repeated criminal behavior) reflect behaviors that are deemed abnormal and that break the formalized laws or rules of a society. Both concepts are broad and capture a diversity of human behavior and experience. While the concepts differ in important ways, a review of mental health, criminal, correctional, and legal institutions suggests that they are also inextricably linked. Given the complexity inherent in the concepts, whether mental illness predicts crime and recidivism is a complex question. This entry includes a review of the research linking mental illness to criminal behavior and a discussion of the place of ...

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