Australian Institute of Criminology

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Mental health and crime

Mental health and the criminal justice system have long been intertwined. Mental disorders in prison populations are up to four times higher than those in the general population. A strong link also exists between illicit drug use and mental health problems with those who have been incarcerated reporting almost five times the incidence of substance-use disorders than other individuals. The AIC’s Drug Use Monitoring in Australia program shows that pathways into drug use and crime differ for males and females with females showing a stronger link between mental illness, drug use and arrest. Further AIC studies examine the link between mental health and offending. The AIC website includes extensive research from both AIC researchers and experts from Australia and overseas, including guidelines developed for policy makers and program developers.


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