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J Intellect Disabil Res. 2004 Sep;48(Pt 6):580-90.

Women with intellectual disability who have offended: characteristics and outcome.

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1
NHS Tayside, Dundee, Scotland, UK. bill.lindsay@tpct.scot.nhs.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There have been a few reports describing the characteristics and outcomes of male offenders with intellectual disability (ID). Therefore, while we are building up a reasonable picture of this client group, there are almost no reports of female offenders with ID. This paper is a preliminary attempt to present information on a small cohort of female offenders.

METHODS:

Characteristics of female offenders are presented including information on age, IQ, mental illness, referring agents, crimes committed, problems identified, sexual and physical abuse and outcome. Some comparisons are made with corresponding descriptions of male cohorts in Lindsay et al. (2004).

RESULTS:

The main result is that females constitute 9% of referrals to the service. Other notable results are that: at 61% sexual abuse in the cohort of female offenders is higher than in male cohorts but at 38.5% physical abuse is no higher than in appropriate comparison groups; as with mainstream female offenders identification of mental illness is high at 67%; and total re-offending over 5 years was 22% but, excluding prostitution, was only 16.5%.

CONCLUSIONS:

In some respects, this cohort of female offenders shows similar characteristics to their male counterparts. However, there are higher levels of mental illness, higher levels of sexual abuse and lower levels of re-offending. It is hypothesized that as females constitute such a low percentage of referrals, it suggests that women with ID do not show the same levels of sexually abusive behaviour or aggressive behaviour--the two most frequent reasons for male referral. Therefore, an intervening variable such as mental illness may indeed be a significant factor. Lower re-offending rates may indicate the success of interventions directed at psychological problems and mental illness.

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