Psychiatric disorders among detained youths: A comparison of youths processed in juvenile court and adult criminal court

Jason J. Washburn, Linda A. Teplin, Laurie S. Voss, Clarissa D. Simon, Karen M. Abram, Gary M. McClelland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: All 50 states and the District of Columbia have legal mechanisms to try juveniles as adults in criminal court. This study examined the prevalence of psychiatric disorders among youths transferred to adult criminal court and youths processed in the juvenile court. Methods: Participants were a stratified random sample of 1,829 youths, ten to 18 years of age, who were arrested and detained in Chicago. Data from version 2.3 of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children are presented for 1,715 youths, 13 to 18 years of age, including 1,440 youths processed in juvenile court and 275 youths processed in adult criminal court. Results: Males, African Americans, Hispanics, and older youths had greater odds of being processed in adult criminal court than females, non-Hispanic whites, and younger youths, even after the analyses controlled for felony-level violent crime. Among youths processed in adult criminal court, 68% had at least one psychiatric disorder and 43% had two or more types of disorders. Prevalence rates and the number of comorbid types of disorders were not significantly different between youths processed in adult criminal court and those processed in juvenile court. Among youths processed in adult criminal court, those sentenced to prison had significantly greater odds than those receiving a less severe sentence of having a disruptive behavior disorder, a substance use disorder, or comorbid affective and anxiety disorders. Conclusions: Community and correctional systems must be prepared to provide psychiatric services to youths transferred to adult criminal court and especially to youths sentenced to prison. When developing and implementing services, psychiatric service providers must also consider the disproportionate representation of individuals from racial-ethnic minority groups in the transfer process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-973
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatric Services
Volume59
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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