A new study published this week in the Journal of Adolescent Health has revealed that nearly 50% of all teens that encounter the criminal justice system in New York City have a history of traumatic brain injuries.
Nearly 400 male and female teenagers were given questionnaires and that found "both boys and girls reported traumatic brain injuries that resulted in a loss of consciousness, amnesia or both [and] 55 percent of those injuries were caused by assaults" prior to incarceration, the Associated Press reported.
The study is the latest in the more recent look into the connection between traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and incarceration. The AP notes the "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," according to Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Ohio State University professor John D. Corrigan.
They also cite burgeoning juvenile justice studies in Texas and Virginia, and a national campaign in the U.K. which found that two-thirds of youth inmates have suffered a TBI. It is worth noting that the focus on head trauma also comes amid the professional sports concussion epidemic.
In 2013, the Department of Corrections admitted roughly 4,000 adolescents into custody on Rikers Island, and "about half return within a year of being discharged." This CDC report from 2012 calls head trauma in prisoners "an unrecognized problem."