ADHD, a disorder overrepresented in prison

Scientific data on the prevalence of attention deficit disorder with or without hyperactivity (ADHD) in prison is dizzying: an international meta-analysis from 2015 assured that a quarter of prisoners would be carriers, on the basis of diagnostic clinical interviews – a proportion ten times higher than in the general adult population. According to another 2015 meta-analysis, which aggregated nine studies involving more than 15,000 individuals, “People with ADHD as children are two to three times more likely to be arrested, convicted or incarcerated as adults”in particular for thefts, assaults or offenses related to the possession of weapons or narcotics.

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is still poorly understood and is defined by clinical symptoms such as physical or mental hyperactivity, lack of attention and strong impulsivity – the intensity varies from person to person. Violence, addictions, poor management of emotions and difficulties in keeping a stable job can lead many young people and adults with ADHD to fall into precariousness and delinquency.

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Anthony (the first name has been changed) was imprisoned for fourteen months in the Tours remand center for driving without a licence. Diagnosed with ADHD three months after arriving, the 31-year-old admits “not thinking about the consequences” of his act. This is his fourth conviction, the previous ones, for cases of theft and concealment, had earned him firm sentences accompanied by suspended sentences. “Anthony took a long time to come to terms with his ADHD, explains Dr. Jerome Bachelor, psychiatrist in the prison health unit (USMP) of the Tours remand center. His impulsiveness was not a problem in his eyes and was even a strength. He did not make the link with his passages to the criminal act. Yet it is a key factor among prisoners. »

Diagnosis can be a relief and consultations a source of comfort for prisoners. “It feels good to know why I freak out sometimes, and to put a name to it”assures Erwan (the first name has been changed), 41, convicted for the fourth time for acts of moral harassment and diagnosed on his arrival. “I gave myself up to Doctor Bachellier like no one elseconfides, for his part, Anthony. He is calm, kind. » After a silence, Anthony continues: “He understands me, explains how I work, advises me. »

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