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ADHD Among Incarcerated Youth: An Investigation on the Congruency with ADHD Prevalence and Correlates Among the General Population

NCJ Number
American Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 30 Issue: 1 Dated: Fall 2005 Pages: 87-97
Date Published
11 pages

This study investigated whether the rate of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is higher within the incarcerated youth population than in the general youth population.


ADHD is one of the most frequently diagnosed psychiatric disorders among children and adolescents and has further been linked to delinquent behavior in youths. The current study compared the variations in characteristics of incarcerated youth diagnosed with ADHD to characteristics of those not diagnosed with ADHD. Data were drawn from a longitudinal study that examined the impact of a substance abuse treatment program on incarcerated youth. Participants were 453 incarcerated youth, 92 of whom were diagnosed with ADHD. Other data sources, such as the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice, were used to gather information on demographic, criminal, educational, psychological, and familial characteristics. Results of statistical analyses indicates that the proportion of incarcerated youth diagnosed with ADHD (20 percent) is much higher than that found in the general youth population, suggesting a link between ADHD and delinquent behavior. However, this link is far from certain and future research should continue to probe the relationship among ADHD, incarceration, treatment programs, and future criminality. Tables, references

Date Published: January 1, 2005