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Mental disorder, intellectual deficiency, and crime

However, previous research has estimated the probability that an individual with a severe mental illness receives any violent conviction, not accounting for an individual repeat offender or the number of different crimes that make up a single conviction. In addition, and more important from a public health perspective, focusing solely on relative risk does not account for the absolute base rate of these crimes and gives an incomplete picture of the dangerousness of those with severe mental illness. Risk estimates underestimate the population impact of these patients to violent crime if individuals with severe mental illness offend more frequently than the general population. In support, recent evidence from Australia (11) suggests that offenders with schizophrenia have two times more convictions over their lifetime than offenders without schizophrenia when matched for age and neighborhood. If, on the other hand, they offend less frequently, the relative risk will exaggerate the population impact. To clarify this issue, calculating the population-attributable risk of severe mental illness to violent crime—the proportion of violent crimes that can be attributed to individuals with severe mental illness—is necessary (15) . By analogy, it is known that the relative risk of developing lung and pancreatic cancers is significantly higher in smokers, but the population-attributable risk of smoking differs substantially between them. It is estimated at 90% for lung cancer, but for pancreatic cancer, it is 33% because of the contribution of other risk factors, such as alcohol use