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Identification and Treatment of Children with Psychiatric Disorders in Circumventing Adult Criminal Justice System

Improved identification and treatment of children with psychiatric disorders in the criminal justice system is most likely the most cost effective method of approaching social issues and the long term costs of incarceration of adults.  In short it is cost effective to identify psychiatric disorders and treat them before the child becomes an adult criminal.

While the effective identification of mental health issues in children would not alone be sufficient to divert all young adults from criminal activity it is one significant indication various paths to criminality.

Nearly half of the young adults with a criminal record had a history of mental illness, as compared with one in three male or one in four female young adults with no criminal history in the American Journal of Psychiatry.[i] This rate was only slightly lower among young adults who had no involvement with the juvenile justice system, and the added risk of childhood psychopathology for young adult criminality remained after analyses controlled for childhood conduct disorder.

Children with specific patterns of psychopathology with and without conduct disorder have been found to be at risk of later criminality. A recent article in the American Journal of Psychiatry has concluded that effective identification and treatment of children with such patterns may reduce later crime.   Many studies in indicate that combinations of disorders may be the more specific indicators of the risk of criminality than only a single disorders.

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