A study conducted in the UK shows a substantial link between brain injury and criminal activity among juvenile offenders. The study analyzed 197 young male offenders, and it found that about 50 percent of them had suffered a brain injury in their childhood.
The offenders were between 11 and 19 years old. They were surveyed about their medical history, the crime they had been convicted of, history of drug abuse and their mental health history. The researchers found that the rate of brain injury in these convicts was at least three times as high as that for non-offenders. The researchers also found that multiple head injuries were linked to more violent crimes.
The researchers analyzed the effect of the brain injury and compared it with other factors that induce criminal delinquency -- like a lack of opportunities, poverty and deprivation -- to determine whether the brain injury contributed to future criminal behavior. They concluded that, while the brain injury on its own was unlikely to increase a child's likelihood of criminal activity in the future, it was likely to increase the risk of criminal activity in children who were already vulnerable to such behavior. Further, a brain injury was found to contribute to repeat offenses.
New Jersey criminal defense lawyers have been aware of other studies that have established a link between brain injury and criminal activity by adults. One study on adults found that 60 percent of adult convicts had suffered a brain injury at some point in their lives. These adults also were found to have a higher risk of reoffending.
While the study cannot be taken to mean that a brain injury automatically increases a person's risk of criminal activity, health care specialists suggest there is a need for careful monitoring of children for months after suffering a brain injury. They advise that parents, schools, caregivers and teachers should be especially alert to behavioral changes that could signify effects of a brain injury, such as depression, moodiness, failure to concentrate, attention deficiencies, and hyperactivity.