A recent study of incarcerated youth between the ages of 16 and 18 suggests a possible environmental influence impacting juvenile crime rates: traumatic brain injury.
As readers may know, a TBI can result from many causes, even everyday activities like a slip-and-fall or sporting activity that involves a blow to the head. In fact, one of the study’s authors noted that the rate of adolescent TBI among non-incarcerated youth is between 15 and 30 percent. In the study, however, around 55 percent of those youth who had suffered TBIs before their incarceration attributed their TBI to an assault.
Researchers compiled data from medical brain injury questionnaires completed by 384 incarcerated youth in New York City’s jails in 2012. Researchers found that about half of both the 300 boys and 84 girls who were surveyed reported suffering a TBI before being incarcerated that involved amnesia and/or loss of consciousness.
Notably, the finding also has a counterpart in the adult prison population. According to a study of South Carolina prisoners, around 60 percent of adult inmates have a brain injury.
The connection may be significant, since possible symptoms of TBI include impulse control issues and decision-making difficulties. Consequently, several researchers are interested in the impact that a TBI may have on a criminal defendant’s behavior in a correctional facility and/or on his or her chances at rehabilitation.
A criminal defense attorney knows that a commitment to a criminal defendant can extend beyond the immediate criminal trial or proceeding at issue. Indeed, many attorneys also examine the circumstances that may have contributed to an alleged criminal offense. In the hands of an experienced attorney, a criminal defendant may have a good chance at building a strong defense and making a fresh start.