According to a recent study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, about half of all 16- to 18-year-olds coming into New York City’s jails say they had a traumatic brain injury before being incarcerated, most caused by assaults.  This study adds to the growing body of research finding a history of brain injury in juvenile offenders.  What is unclear, though, is whether the brain injuries were contributing factors to the criminal conduct of the studied offenders. Brain injuries affect natural development of temperance, social judgment, and control impulses which contribute to criminality.

Nevertheless, these findings could lead to better training for correction officers on how to deal with the possible symptoms of such trauma, such as include impulse control and decision-making.

The study found nearly 50 percent of both boys and girls reported traumatic brain injuries that resulted in a loss of consciousness, amnesia or both. And they said 55 percent of those injuries were caused by assaults.

Previous studies show the rate of traumatic brain injury among adolescents who aren’t incarcerated is between15 to 30 percent.

Brain injuries are often undiagnosed because people with them don’t necessarily show obvious, immediate signs of injury. But research about them has increased in recent years, as combat veterans and children who play contact sports have displayed symptoms.

A growing body of research shows that inmates whose brains have been jolted by trauma are linked to higher rates of breaking jailhouse rules, substance abuse and greater difficulty re-entering society after detention.

An estimated 60 percent of adult prisoners have a brain injury.

In Great Britain, a commission that found almost two-thirds of young inmates suffered from head trauma, which University of Exeter researchers found to be associated with earlier, repeated and more time spent in custody.