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Psych drugs 'can help ex-prisoners': study

AAP logoAAP 1/11/2016 John von Radowitz

Psychiatric drugs can pacify former prison inmates with a propensity to violence and help them adjust to life outside jail, a study has found.

Rates of violent re-offending dropped significantly when ex-prisoners were prescribed the medicines, the Swedish research showed.

Scientists looked at prisoners from across Sweden released between 2005 and 2010 whose progress was monitored until the end of 2013.

Of the 22,275 former inmates in the study, 4,031 committed new violent offences during the follow-up period - a total of 5,653 individual incidents.

Treatment with antipsychotic drugs was associated with a 42 per cent reduction in the rate of violent re-offending, while psychostimulants led to a 36 per cent drop.

Drugs used for addictive disorders cut violent assaults by more than half.

Lead researcher Professor Seena Fazel, from Oxford University's Department of Psychiatry, said: "Many countries are keen to reduce the number of people in their prisons, but are unsure how to balance rehabilitation with protecting the public.

"This study raises the possibility that prescribed medications may provide a way to cut the risk of violent re-offending, as part of a wider package of support."

The findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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