Other evidence suggests patterns of dependence symptoms and alcohol abuse may be linked with depressive or other disorders in adolescents, which may progress into adulthood leading to criminal activity (Martin, Kaczynski, Maisto & Bukstein, 1995; Kessler, et. al, 1996; Kilpatrick, et. al, 2000).
Other evidence links aggressive behavior later in life with affective disorders in adolescence or young adulthood which may contribute to adult violent tendencies (Downey & Walker, 1992; Elze, Stiffman & Dore, 1999; Fergusson, Horwood & Lynskey, 1996; Ackerman, et. al, 1998). Elze, Stiffman & Dore (1999) emphasize the "correlation between violence and youth's mental problems" explaining the two are "inextricably linked" to one another, and that mental health problems when not addressed adequately can lead to violence unchecked in adolescence and later in life (p. 222). This notion is further supported by Carlson & Dalenburg (2000) who suggest that violence and abuse may be "exacerbated" in conditions where affective disorders prevail (p. 22).
The Link Between Victimization and Psychopathology
Existing data clearly links "victimization history and psychopathology" (Gil, et. al, 147). Further the research available of community samples of adolescents suggests a relationship between alcohol and drug abuse, assault, violence abuse, higher rates of mood and anxiety disorders, PTSD and suicidal behaviors (Gil, et. al, 2004; Ackerman, et. al 1999). Clinical samples also link psychiatric disorders with later substance abuse, affective and anxiety disorders and aggressive tendencies and behaviors (Gil, et. al, 204; Brand, et. al, 1996; Loeber, 1999).
The literature available with respect to adult criminology suggests that "psychopathic offenders commit more crimes and a wider range of crimes than others" (Machin, et. al, 173). In addition there is a higher rate of recidivism reported among these offenders (Machin, et. al, 2001; Haynes, Richard & Kubany, 1995).
Summary of Preliminary Research
The preliminary research review supports a link between affective disorders, substance abuse in youth and adolescence and later incarceration or criminal activity. Though there is ample evidence suggesting that substance abuse and aggressive behaviors may be tied to psychiatric disorders, further research is still necessary to determine what steps are necessary to prevent or reform individuals victimized in this manner. There is also ample evidence supporting the increasing number of African-American males specifically that are incarcerated each year for violent and non-violent criminal activities.
Literature supporting higher rates of recidivism among offenders with affective disorders and substance abuse problems clearly points to the need for prevention and treatment programs among this population. Thus far the literature uncovered suggests that diagnosis of affective disorders or other mental conditions precedes any aggressive activity or drug and substance abuse among victims. If anything one may conclude that individuals with affective or other disorders might use drugs to help ameliorate the symptoms of their condition, which may be exacerbated by untoward living conditions. Criminal activity may follow as a means to feed a victim's addiction and treat their mental disorder. Further research in this area is necessary to confirm or disprove this notion.
As with any study certain factors can not be controlled. The optimal population sample can't be determined nor can the researcher evaluate a sample size great enough to generalize the results to the population at large due to financial and time constraints. However the researcher has selected a sample size based on multiple previous studies, which suggest the sample size selected represents the average population incarcerated at this time.
The self report instrument also lends itself to some subjectivity, which may threaten internal validity. The researcher will attempt to minimize this threat by reviewing as large a sample size as possible and ensuring questions are clear and understood by participants to as great extent as possible.
The researcher will also work to establish internal validity by comparing the results of the field research with information gathered from the literature review. To the best extend possible the researcher will use objective processes to compare data and formulate grounded conclusions. The researcher will have the questions developed for the self report instrument peer reviewed to limit the possibility of personal bias and subjectivity. This will also help improve the internal validity of the results of the study.
The study will include two self report instruments for quantitative analysis. A semi-structured interview with a smaller sample of the larger group will be tested using the self report instruments. The research will be conducted in a mid size prison in New Jersey. It will examine the seriousness of the offense and length of time prisoners remained within the criminal justice system.
The study will include a sample size of adults aged 18 to 25 years who are incarcerated for a period of time ranging 3 months to 1 or more years. The study will include 50 participants from a NJ jail and 20 participants in an associated probationary program. The researcher also suggests a random sample of 10 male participants for follow up.
The results of this study may be safely generalized to African-American male populations of criminals incarcerated for criminal activity with a history of affective disorders. The study will also be limited in size to African-American males between the ages of 18 and 25 as the majority of research currently available suggests that this population is most affected and relevant. Much of the research conducted thus far incorporates similar age ranges.
The information gathered in this study may not be correlated with studies related to minority women or women incarcerated. This population is not being studied for purposes of research as the body of evidence that currently exists suggests the minority male population is currently suffering more rapid inclines than the female population. The researcher has opted for quantitative rather than qualitative analysis to provide more comprehensive statistical information that will assert without a doubt whether a correlation exists between the proposed variables.
This study highlights the correlation between experiences of trauma or other environmental factors and mental health problems with health risk problems including substance abuse among adolescents and young adults. It also correlates aggressive behaviors later in life with risk factors including affective disorders and substance abuse or abuse experiences later in life. The majority of research available at this time remains unclear with respect the exact relationships between psychiatric disorders or affective disorders and criminal experiences later in life, though a growing body of evidence points toward a direct relationship between the two (Gil, et. al, 2004).
The initial findings of the research study support further investigation into the relationship between affective disorders, substance abuse and criminal activity among African-American males. Current literature also supports the need for examination into methods for preventing criminal activity among African-American males to reduce the disparity that currently exists with regard to arrests and incarcerations among this population. Prevention programs may need to focus on treating the affective disorders and other factors that may contribute to violence or substance abuse including a family history of violence or abuse.
Clearly there is ample evidence suggesting the young African-American males with mental health disorders or histories of abuse of any kind are more vulnerable to engaging in criminal behaviors, whether violent or otherwise (Lynam, 1996; Loeber, Lahey & Thomas, 1991; Loeber, Green, Keenan & Lahey, 1995). It is the job of healthcare agencies and other administrators to help develop strategies for delivering effective treatment and support programs to enable a reduction in risk related behaviors among this population (Rice, Harris & Cormier, 1992; Ogloff, Wong & Greenwood, 1990).
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Gil, A.G., Montgomery, M.J., Tubman, J.G. & Wagner, E.F. (2004). "Abuse experiences in a community sample of young adults: Relations with psychiatric…