Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder does not predict criminal recidivism in young adult offenders: Results from a prospective study

Lena Grieger, Daniela Hosser
International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 2012, 35 (1): 27-34
As the state of research on the relationship between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and recidivism can be considered controversial, our prospective study investigated whether ADHD predicts recidivism in a sample of 283 male, German, young adult prisoners. Currently existing ADHD symptoms and symptoms that were present in childhood were screened according to the DSM-IV checklist criteria. Information on general and violent recidivism was gathered using government records with a follow-up period of up to five years. The prevalence of adult ADHD was six times greater than in the general population, and the number of participants who retrospectively met the criteria for a diagnosis with ADHD in childhood was ten times greater than found in community samples. Survival analyses did not identify ADHD as a predictor of recidivism. Controlling for conduct disorder, substance dependence, and other relevant variables did not alter results. However, among individuals who were released from prison and then reconvicted for a new crime, offenders diagnosed with ADHD were found to reoffend sooner after release. These findings stress the necessity of differentiating between risk factors for delinquency and risk factors for recidivism.

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