Assessment and treatment of offenders with intellectual and developmental disabilities

Authored by: William R. Lindsay , John L. Taylor

Handbook of Forensic Mental Health

Print publication date:  March  2008
Online publication date:  August  2012

Print ISBN: 9781843922629
eBook ISBN: 9780203118276
Adobe ISBN: 9781136308802


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In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, several writers seemed convinced of a strong link between intellectual and developmental disabilities and crime (Scheerenberger 1983). In 1921, Goddard suggested that up to 50 per cent of people in prisons were ‘mentally defective’ while Terman (1911) wrote that ‘There is no investigator who denies the fearful role of mental deficiency in the production of vice, crime and delinquency … not all criminals are feeble minded but all feeble minded are at least potential criminals’ (p. 11). Clearly there has been historical unease about people with intellectual disabilities and their potential for crime. This chapter will review the trends and developments of research in the field over the last 60 years or so.

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