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June 23, 1978

Epilepsy Among Persons Convicted of Crimes

Author Affiliations

University of Iowa Hospitals Iowa City

JAMA. 1978;239(25):2694-2695. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03280520066025

King and Young (p 2674) have provided a useful study of the prevalence of epilepsy among 12,030 inmates in jails and prisons in Illinois. Their method of estimation by counting those receiving anticonvulsant medication in a literally captive population is probably as good as any practical and affordable system likely to be applied.

The study is important in discovering a prevalence of 1.9%, which is significantly greater than has been estimated for the general population. Perhaps the prevalence that can be established from studying the records of those who have no place to hide may be more nearly representative of the actual number suffering from chronically recurring seizures than data otherwise derived. Nevertheless, this is a relatively high percentage.

If indeed the epileptic is more prone to criminality or conviction than his counterpart in the general population, why is this so? We must examine the association of epilepsy with impulsive

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