Experiences of offenders with traumatic brain injury

Mark A. Linden*, Conall O'Rourke, Catherine Monaghan, Deborah Rainey

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Purpose: Traumatic brain injury is recognised as a significant and pervasive health issue among offender populations. Despite this, no qualitative research exists exploring the experiences and perceptions of offenders with TBI in prison.
Methods: Qualitative interviews were conducted with male and female offenders housed in a UK prison. Interviews examined what participants felt led them to offend, experiences of incarceration, and post-release plans. Presence of TBI was assessed via the Brain Injury Screening Index. Data were analysed by means of inductive content analysis.
Findings: Both male and female prisoners primarily attributed their incarceration to drugs and alcohol use, with males also referencing more issues with aggression, while mental illness and past abuse were more commonly mentioned among females. A lack of recognition for the possible role of TBI was noted, with several males describing themselves as “stupid” or prone to making “poor lifestyle choices”. Both groups indicated a desire to return to education or work post-release,
Conclusions: Despite significant rates of injury, there is a clear lack of understanding and consideration of the role of TBI in the behaviour and presentation of offenders. There is need for improved identification and education around TBI early in the criminal justice process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108 - 123
JournalBrain Impairment
Volume22
Issue number1
Early online date14 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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