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June 10, 1974

Psychiatric Disorders and Criminality

Author Affiliations

Psychiatric Institute, Circuit Court of Cook County Chicago

JAMA. 1974;228(11):1369. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230360017006

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To the Editor.—  The article by Drs. Guze, Woodruff, and Clayton (227:641, 1974) calls for comment because of what we view as erroneous conclusions based on incorrect research techniques.The authors conclude that sociopathy, alcoholism, and drug dependence are the psychiatric disorders most frequently associated with serious crime, and, further, that schizophrenia is not notably associated with serious crime. Of course, schizophrenia is not notably associated when one uses conviction of crime as the measure of involvement in serious crime because schizophrenia is a defense to the crime, ie, it is the most common basis for a finding of legal insanity in felonies. With regard to misdemeanors, charges usually are vacated by the court on a showing that the defendant is psychotic. In those cases, the quid pro quo for dropping the charges is commitment of the defendant-patient to a psychiatric hospital. Accordingly, relatively few identified schizophrenics have conviction records;