Arrest or Hospitalization? An Examination of the Relationship Between Psychiatric Symptoms, Traumatic Childhood Experiences, and Socio-Ecological Factors in Forensic Mental Health System Responses to Offender Behavior

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It has been well documented that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) lead to unfavorable outcomes in later life, especially with regard to health and psychological outcomes. Recent research has demonstrated the impact of early childhood adversity on the onset of aggression and illegal behavior. However, often those with mental illness diagnoses with comorbid behavioral problems exhibit trajectories that include both arrest and hospitalization. While some are arrested for their criminal behavior, others are hospitalized. This begs the question: are those with mental illness and behavioral problems more likely to be arrested, or hospitalized, for their early behavioral problems? In the current study, it was hypothesized that arrest precedes hospitalization for the majority of these offenders, and that specific diagnoses of a mental illness are related to outcome. It was also hypothesized that early exposure to environmental adversity, as measured by the age of earliest ACE and total ACE score, would impact whether offenders were arrested or hospitalized first. The data for this study were gathered from comprised sample of 182 adult psychiatric inpatients in a secure forensic facility. Data were archival and retrospective in nature. All participants had been hospitalized following acts of violence or aggression, exhibiting a history of both behavioral problems as well as mental illness. A series of logistic and linear regressions were used to examine the relationship between reason for first admission to a psychiatric facility, diagnosis of a mental disorder, and early childhood adversity to clarify whether early problematic behaviors resulted in initial arrest or psychiatric hospitalization. Results indicate that subjects were much more likely to be hospitalized initially than arrested (33.5% arrested first, 66.5% hospitalized first). A diagnosis of impulse control disorder was significantly related to whether initial incident led to arrest or hospitalization (p=0.030), while the diagnosis Page 54 2016 Appalachian Student Research Forum of ADHD neared significance (p=0.056). No significant relationship was found between incidence of initial arrest or hospitalization and age that drug/alcohol abuse began. Other findings and implications for future research will be discussed.


Johnson City, TN

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