August 25, 2019

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New Study Suggests Connection Between Brain Injuries and Rates of Incarceration

A study recently published in the CMAJ Open journal shows that people who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are 2.5 times more likely to be incarcerated than those who have not.

Details of the Study

The study observed 1.41 million adults (aged 18-28) from July 1, 1997, to December 31, 2011. The study took place in Ontario, Canada, gathered criminal justice information from the Offender Management System run by the Correctional Service of Canada. Medical data was obtained from the following sources:

  • Registered Persons Database
  • Ontario Health Insurance Plan Database
  • Canadian Institute for Health Information Discharge Abstracts Database
  • National Ambulatory Care Reporting System

A traumatic brain injury is considered a blunt or piercing trauma to the brain which can result in damaged brain cells. Specifically, TBIs can alter brain chemistry and functionality, resulting in reduced impulse control and changes in mood or behavior. The study only considered participants if they were eligible for health care during the period of study.


748,393 men and 731,013 women were included in the analysis, 77,519 (or 5.2 percent) of the total participants suffered from at least one TBI during the study. 402 people who suffered from a TBI were later incarcerated (a rate of .05 percent), compared to people who were incarcerated without a TBI (3,331 out of 1,401,887 or .02 percent).

In plain english, this data suggests that suffering from a traumatic brain injury may be a significant factor for the risks of being incarcerated later in life.

About Zac Pingle

Zac Pingle was born in Florida, and grew up in several places across the United States. From a young age, Zac developed a taste for writing, reading under trees and getting into trouble. Currently, Zac resides in Oregon as a college student where he aspires to become an English professor.