In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Mental Health and Crime

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • Gender Issues
  • Issues Concerning Juveniles

Criminology Mental Health and Crime
Sarah Manchak, Samantha Henderson, Julia Mesler, Caravella McCuistian
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 July 2013
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0098


Individuals with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. This is a population that poses a number of unique challenges to the correctional system, from the adjudication process through community reentry. The current state of the science on offenders with mental illness can largely be categorized into two overarching themes: (a) understanding how people with mental illness come to—and continue to be involved in—the criminal justice system and (b) determining how to best manage this population at all stages of the criminal justice system. This entry highlights the literature that speaks to these two overarching themes by presenting the most well-known, well-cited, and/or methodologically rigorous peer-reviewed empirical studies and, when relevant and indicated as such, book chapters, review articles, and theoretical manuscripts. This article is organized primarily by the main issues into which these two broad themes can be further divided. The sources included in this article emphasize offenders with serious mental illness, but some focus more broadly on mental illness and psychiatric symptoms in general. The literature on persons with mental retardation, those with cognitive deficits, and sex offenders are excluded from this article.

General Overviews

The two texts listed in this section provide a general overview of the issues relating broadly to mental health and crime. Texts that have a more specific focus are listed under the relevant subsections of this annotated bibliography. Teplin 1984 provides an excellent historical perspective on mental health and criminal justice issues, and Peay 2011, a more recent publication, offers an updated analysis of the empirical literature and issues surrounding this topic.

  • Peay, J. 2011. Mental health and crime. London: Routledge.

    Examines the relationship between mental health and crime, including issues related to causality, human rights, law, and treatment.

  • Teplin, L., ed. 1984. Mental health and criminal justice. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE.

    Provides a broad overview of the issues related to mental health and criminal justice with a focus on (a) legal structure and social definition; (b) the dynamics of intersystem processing; (c) policing of the mentally ill; (d) the definition and management of deviant behavior; and (e) conviction, incarceration, and parole of the mentally disordered offender.

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