Swedish young offenders in community-based rehabilitative programmes : Patterns of antisocial behaviour, mental health, and recidivism

Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis was to explore patterns of antisocial behaviour, mental health and recidivism among Swedish young offenders in community-based rehabilitative programmes (n=189). Study I explored the character and severity of self-reported behavioural problems prior to programme participation.  Four distinct subgroups were identified: subgroup (SG) 1 (n=60), boys exhibiting adolescent delinquency; SG 2 (n=65), boys exhibi­ting pronounced adolescent delinquency; SG 3 (n=48), boys exhibiting pronounced adolescent delinquency as well as criminality including violence; SG 4 (n=16), boys exhibiting pronounced adolescent delinquency as well as criminality including violence and drug-related crimes. Study II investigated the mental health of the participants, by means of the Strengths and Difficulty Questionnaire (SDQ). When relating SDQ-scores to the previously identified subgroups, SG 1 with the least prominent history of antisocial behaviour was found to resemble a normative sample, while the subgroups with more extensive histories of antisocial behaviour had significantly elevated scores on the hyperactivity/inattention and conduct problem scales. Study III investigated recidivism in criminality in the 18-months following programme start, finding that 60% of the participants had been registered as suspected of new crimes. SG 3 and 4 with the most extensive histories of antisocial behaviour were responsible for a significantly larger part of recidivism than expected. By contrast, SG 1, reporting the least antisocial behaviour in their past, was responsible for a significantly smaller part of the recidivism. This was true for all crimes as well as crimes of violence specifically, confirming the subgroups identified based on the self-reports. The results are related to developmental theories of antisocial behaviour and to contemporary research on risk assessment. Implications for the practice of rehabilitation of convicted young offenders are discussed. 

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