Relative mortality among criminals in Norway and the relation to drug and alcohol related offenses

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Background: Registered offenders are known to have a higher mortality rate, but given the high proportion of offenders with drug-addiction, particularly among offenders with a custodial sentence, higher mortality is expected. While the level of overall mortality compared to the non-criminal population is of interest in itself, we also estimate the risk of death by criminal records related to substance abuse and other types of criminal acts, and separate between those who receive a prison sentence or not. Methods: Age-adjusted relative risks of death for 2000-2008 were studied in a population based dataset. Our dataset comprise the total Norwegian population of 2.9 million individuals aged 15-69 years old in 1999, of whom 10% had a criminal record in the 1992-1999 period. Results: Individuals with a criminal record have twice the relative risk (RR) of death of the control group (non-offenders). Males with a record of use/possession of drugs and a prison record have an 11.9 RR (females, 15.6); males with a drug record but no prison record have a 6.9 RR (females 10.5). Males imprisoned for driving under the influence of substances have a 4.4 RR (females 5.6); males with a record of driving under the influence but no prison sentence have a 3.2 RR (females 6.5). Other male offenders with a prison record have a 2.8 RR (females 3.7); other male offenders with no prison record have a 1.7 RR (females 2.3). Conclusion: Significantly higher mortality was found for people with a criminal record, also for those without any record of drug use. Mortality is much higher for those convicted of substance-related crimes: more so for drug- than for alcoholrelated crimes and for women. © 2013 Skardhamar, Skirbekk.




Skardhamar, T., & Skirbekk, V. (2013). Relative mortality among criminals in Norway and the relation to drug and alcohol related offenses. PLoS ONE, 8(11).

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