African-American Males and the Correlation Between Affective Disorders Substance Abuse and the Criminal Justice System Term Paper

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African-American Males and the Correlation Between Affective Disorders, Substance Abuse, And the Criminal Justice System

Studies Supporting African-American Male Criminal Activity

Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Aggressive Behavior

The Link Between Victimization and Psychopathology

African-American Males and the Correlation Between Affective

Disorders, Substance Abuse and the Criminal Justice System

In recent years a growing body of research suggests that crime is on the rise among the African Male population, and that this crime may result from a variety of social problems including a history of abuse and psychological disorders among the population in question (Gil, et. al, 2004; Coker, 2003; Lloyd & Gil, 2002 Miller, 1997; Having worked within the health care field recently, the researcher noticed a steady increase in the number of African-American male patients presenting with Substance Abuse problems either on probation or recently released from prison. The increase in the number of African-American male patients seems at best disproportionate and requires further investigation.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on African-American Males and the Correlation Between Affective Disorders Substance Abuse and the Criminal Justice System Assignment

Many of the individuals examined also presented with affective disorders prior to developing substance abuse problems. This supports the evidence currently growing that African-American males incarcerated for violent and non-violent crimes may require further evaluation for affective disorders. These disorders may contribute to substance abuse problems, which may in turn result in criminal or aggressive tendencies, an idea supported by multiple researchers (Coker, 2003; Loyd & Gil, 2002). Much of the research that has been conducted up until this point in time examines trends in behavior and the likelihood that adolescent problems and mental disorders may be linked with deviant adult behavior including substance abuse problems and criminal activity (Coker, 2003). It is vital that further investigations are made in order to enable better treatment and prevention protocols to reduce the disproportionate number of African-American males subject to criminal activity or substance abuse problems. Part of the aim of this research will focus on these needs.

Within the urban population represented at the facility the researcher worked at, many males were exposed to traumatic events including domestic violence that may also have contributed to their present victimization. Many demonstrated disorders in early adolescence through adulthood and subsequently became involved in illegal activities including but not limited to selling drugs or performing other crimes as a means to support abusive habits. There is ample evidence in the literature that early childhood trauma and inadequate support systems are often present with substance abuse patients or with individuals prone to violent or aggressive behaviors (Gil, Montgomery, Tubman & Wagner, 2004).

Gil, et. al (2004) suggest that interpersonal violence is often associated with "higher probabilities of negative physical and Mental Health outcomes" but also confirms that the correlation between mental health and violence and substance abuse remain at best "poorly understood" (p. 147). Multiple researchers have documented the long-term effects of abuse in childhood on adult outcome, reporting a greater likelihood of negative outcomes and higher rates of psychiatric disorders among individuals exposed to traumatic events (Gil, et. al, 147). This clearly demonstrates that other factors including a history of abuse or sub-optimal environmental factors may all contribute to the likelihood that someone suffering an affective disorder will turn to drugs or other substances to mitigate their problems. The likelihood that these individuals will go on to engage in criminal activity need be further examined.

Many of the models proposed thus far related to psychological health, substance abuse and violence have been "trauma based" suggesting that a series of abuse experiences may increase the risk "for both psychiatric disorders and risky behaviors" and that abuse experiences "may be associated with a series of deficits in normal development of socio emotional competences and psychological well being" (Gil, et. al 147).

Significance of Problem

Recent studies have highlighted the growing number of people incarcerated for violent and non-violent crimes in the U.S. (Miller, 1997). Crime is only one small part of the picture however. It is vital that law enforcement agencies recognize the potential for mental health disorders that, when left untreated, may contribute to deviant activity. Prevention is much more likely to enable fewer aggressive and substance abuse problems than addressing problems after they arise.

In recent years studies suggest an alarming increase of the number of African-American males within the criminal justice system. In addition a rise of mental health disorders among this population is evident. Miller (1997) describes the problem as "disastrous" suggesting that up to one third of African-American Males aged eighteen to twenty one arrested and charged with criminal offenses within any given year (1). A study conducted by the National Center on Institutions and Alternatives reported that on any given day up to 42% of African-American males between the ages of 18 and 35 living in the District of Columbia "were in jail, prison or on probation/parole, or being sought for arrest warrants" (Miller 1).

"Excessive costs" associated with incarcerating victims who may need treatment for affective or other psychopathic conditions exact a huge toll on society (Machin, Rogers & Salekin, 173). As the number of young males incarcerated continues to grow early identification of psychopathic conditions is clearly becoming more and more important (Machin, et. al, 2001; Grisso, 1996).

Purpose Of Proposed Study

The purpose of this study is an examination of the life experiences of African-American Males to determine whether a correlation exists between the mental disorders demonstrated and criminal justice system involvement. To accomplish this the researcher will examine the following research questions: (1) what if any relationship exists between presence of an affective disorder or other mental disorder and criminal behavior, (2) what relationship if any exists between mental disorders and substance abuse problems, (3) the relationship between adolescent history of abuse and other trauma, affective disorders and violent or aggressive behavior later in life and (4) what if any steps might be taken to address the issues resulting from any uncovered relationships.

To examine these questions in greater detail the researcher proposes a comprehensive literature review that will examine the nature of affective disorders and other mental problems in adults and children, the relationship between mental problems and substance abuse and the correlation if any between mental health, substance abuse and aggressive or criminal activity. The researcher will also embark on quantitative analysis using a self report tool to examine a population of young African-American males incarcerated at a local New Jersey center. The information gathered from these interviews will be combined with information gathered from the literature review to enable scientifically grounded conclusions regarding the relationship between the variables examined.

The researcher assumes for purposes of this study that all study participants are willing participants fully informed of the study's intent, goals and expected research outcomes. The researcher hypothesis the following: an obvious correlation exists between the presence of affective disorders in African-American males and subsequent substance abuse problems and incarcerations. The null hypothesis is as follows: no obvious correlation exists between the presence of affective disorders in African-American males and subsequent substance abuse problems and incarcerations.

Preliminary Literature Review

The preliminary literature review supports the need for additional research into the relationship between affective disorders, substance abuse and criminal activity among the African-American male population. Miller (1997) points out that throughout the 199s an "absolute majority of young minority males were being arrested" for minor crimes and misdemeanors, while three million arrests were reported for serious or violent crimes (p. 2). The researcher notes the "grossly disproportionate percentages" of young African-American males arrested compared with non-minorities or other minority groups (Miller, 2).

Studies Supporting African-American Male Criminal Activity

Miller (1997) cites a 1990 report by the RAND Corporation of African-American Males living in DC, which shows more than 42% in jail, on probation, or being sought fro crimes. Yet another survey conducted in Baltimore shows that 56% of African-American males between the ages of 18 and 21 had either been arrested or were "under justice supervision of some sort" (p. 2). Interestingly a majority of the arrests made are not for violent crimes but rather for lesser felonies or misdemeanors (Miller, 2). Studies suggest that African-American males are arrested in some cases at "six times the rate of whites," and that many of the arrests were for possession (Miller, 2).

Many of the racial disparities that exist with regard to African male arrests remain "unexplained by racial differences in offending" (Coker 827). Because of this it is vital that researchers uncover the core social problems leading to arrests and imprisonments within this population (Coker, 2003).

Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Aggressive Behavior

There is however much evidence pointing to affective disorders and substance abuse problems within the African-American male population, which may contribute to drug dependence and criminal activity (Widom & White, 1997; Wagner, Loyd & Gil, 2002; Zeitlin, 1999; Gil, et. al, 2004). Still other evidence points to drug use early in adolescence as contributing to criminal behavior, and that early drug use may be associated with other domestic, violence or abuse problems and mental health disorders even in youth (Vega & Gil, 1998; Turner… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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African-American Males Correlation Between Affective Disorders Substance Abuse and the Criminal Justice System Term Paper


African-American Males Correlation Between Affective Disorders Substance Abuse and the Criminal Justice System Term Paper


Truancy Rationale, Relevance, Significance Organization of Remainder Research Proposal


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