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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 55-60

Psychiatric morbidity in violent and nonviolent offenders: A cross-sectional comparative study

1 Department of Psychiatry, RIMS, Adilabad, Institute of Mental Health, Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad, Telangana, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad, Telangana, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Divija Bunga
Institute of Mental Health, Osmania Medical College, Hyderabad, Telangana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/AMH.AMH_14_19

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Background: Several studies have found that mental illnesses are very commonly seen in the prison population when compared to the normal population and they are a major public health concern. In most of the cases, it is very difficult to differentiate between abnormal personality and criminal behavior and their influence on psychopathology. In the literature, there were many studies done on the entire prison population. However, there were very few studies that compared the characteristics and psychopathology of both violent and nonviolent offenders which are distinct in many ways. Hence, the current study focussed on how the violent differ from the non-violent offenders. Aim: This study aims to study the various sociodemographic factors, crime characteristics, and psychiatric morbidity in violent offenders and nonviolent offenders. Study Design: It is a cross-sectional comparative study conducted at central prison Cherlapalli, Hyderabad. Materials and Methods: Study sample includes 61 violent offenders involved in serious crimes like murder (IPC SEC 302), attempt to murder (IPC SEC 307) and 34 nonviolent offenders (involved in other crimes like theft, check bounce, etc.) The characteristics are analyzed using semi-structured intake pro forma, and psychopathology is analyzed using International Classification of Diseases 10 criteria and MINI scale. Results and Conclusions: In our study, significant differences between the two groups were found in domicile, employment status, marital status, and duration of stay in prison. History of psychiatric illness before and after the crime is most commonly seen in violent offenders when compared to nonviolent offenders. Significant previous incarcerations were high in nonviolent offenders when compared to nonviolent offenders. In both the groups, more than half of the individuals had either alcohol abuse or dependence pattern, and high rates of substance intoxication at the time of the commission of the crime were found in violent offenders. Less than one-fourth of both groups were found to have psychiatric illness apart from alcohol. Hence, more awareness programs and campaigns regarding the influence of alcohol on the crimes can be conducted with the help of police, government, private organizations, and media, especially directed at vulnerable and at-risk population for crime, would indirectly decrease crime rate by decreasing alcohol consumption. There are a lot of studies in Indian literature regarding the psychopathology in the whole of the prison population and also in violent offenders; but, there are very few studies comparing both violent and nonviolent offenders which are a distinct population.

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