The Relationship between Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminality in Juvenile Offenders

Wayne A. Gordon, Lisa A. Spielman, Amanda E. Hahn-Ketter, Karla Therese L. Sy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: To examine the relationship between traumatic brain injury (TBI) and criminal behavior in youth who are incarcerated or on probation in Texas. Setting: Seven juvenile justice facilities. Participants: Juvenile offenders in state or county correctional facilities or on probation. Design: Screening for TBI was conducted among adolescents at 7 juvenile justice centers. Main Measures: Participants were administered the Brain Injury Screening Questionnaire, and results were linked to participants' offense history and psychiatric diagnoses. Results: One in 4 juvenile offenders met criteria for TBI, and the majority of injuries occurred prior to the adolescents' criminal offenses. A history of TBI was related to more violent crimes, as well as more mental health diagnoses and symptoms. Conclusion: The high rates of TBI and levels of distress found in juvenile offenders suggest a need for preventive actions, interventions to compensate for challenges related to TBI, and programs to assist individuals' transitions into the community.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-403
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2017


  • adolescents
  • juvenile offense
  • traumatic brain injury


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