TBI and the Criminal Justice System


  • Angela Colantonio
  • John Corrigan
  • Huw Williams


  • To provide an overview of work that informs the development of services for people with brain injury in prisons including prevalence and epidemiological characteristics.
  • To inform regarding co-morbidities and other factors that are associated with TBI in prisoners and their importance if ascribing cause of impairment and disability.
  • To describe the development of appropriate service pathways suitable for people with TBI in the criminal justice system.


A Brief Introduction to TBI and the Criminal Justice System: Tom McMillan. This very short introductory talk will provide orientation to this area and its importance.

The Prevalence of TBI in Offenders. Angela Colantonio This presentation will provide an overview of the epidemiology of TBI internationally in criminalized populations, with a sex and gender lens. The recommendations of studies will be discussed in findings high prevalence will also be examined in studies and methodological issues will be discussed. The presentation will end by presenting a new large study in Ontario Canada in Integrating Traumatic Brain Injury Mental Health and Addictions in marginalized populations such as in the justice system where solutions are being generated that includes multiple key stakeholders including a major voice from persons with lived experience with a sex and gender lens.

TBI and Criminal Activity: Cause or Effect, John Corrigan. There have been numerous literature reviews examining traumatic brain injury (TBI) and criminal activity. Conclusions support that there is a high prevalence of TBI among offenders and that those with a history have greater recidivism, infractions during incarceration, and convictions for violent offenses. It is less clear whether TBI actually causes a greater propensity toward criminal activity or if they share a common etiology (e.g., risk taking, childhood environment, adverse childhood experience). This presentation will attempt to summarize studies that have explicitly addressed this question, as well as others that contain findings that reflect on hypotheses about common etiologies.

TBI and Women in Prison – A Special Case? Tom McMillan Research on people with TBI in prison has mostly focused on men. However, a small, but growing literature is suggesting that the epidemiology and needs of women prisoners with TBI differs from men. This talk will briefly summarise work in this area. It will then present new data on the population of women with TBI in prison in Scotland and relationships between TBI impairment and disability in the context of the ongoing developing of a service in the criminal justice system in Scotland.

Neurorehabilitation in justice settings: pathways and interventions for reducing violence and improve social outcomes. Huw Williams Brain Injury leads people to being impulsive, poor at problem solving, and with poor social communication skills. Screening and managing the effects of TBI within young people within – or at risk of being in – the justice system is important. New pathways are being developed in England and Wales (UK) to reduce incarceration and improve resettlement of young people with TBI in justice system. Cases will be presented to illustrate how TBI can be managed to enable improved rehabilitation.

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