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ADHD Justice Support Center » Corrections & Reentry

Corrections & Reentry

If an individual with ADHD finds themselves incarcerated in a correctional facility, they may continue to face significant challenges. The influence of their cell-block environment can play a large role. If placed with more ‘predatory’ criminals, the individual with ADHD and associated social difficulties may seek acceptance and develop more problematic behaviors. If placed with non-predator/calmer criminals, may blend quickly and adjust well to the imposed structure of a correctional setting. If correctional staff recognizes a repeat offender performs better while incarcerated, this may indicate that the imposed structure of prison is compensating for ADHD deficits and this inmate may be good candidate for ADHD screening.

Probation & Parole
The challenges facing all inmates upon re-entry are significantly amplified for those with ADHD. Success of probation period depends in part on the type of deficit- i.e. whether the individual has a tendency to blame others and rebel against authority, or a tendency to blame oneself.

The working memory deficit characteristic of ADHD can result in problematic forgetfulness and difficulty holding events in mind. The symptomatic sense of time impairment impacts ability to prepare for upcoming events, judge the passing of time, or accurately estimate how much time it will take to finish task- resulting in problematic procrastination. These ADHD impairments result in increased chance of failure in completing tasks and fulfilling obligations, e.g. missing vital appointments with a Parole Officer.
Another obstacle to successful reentry for an individual with ADHD involves lack of recognition and understanding. Offenders that enter the justice system in the United States are not currently screened for ADHD as a part of the standard entrance processing. They may find that their probation requires abstinence from street drugs that function as self-medication, because they do not have access to appropriate treatment options. Self-medicating will get them back into trouble as a violation of probation- but without knowledge of and/or appropriate treatment for their disorder, they may get into trouble again due to their untreated symptoms.