A comparison of female versus male insanity acquittees in Colorado.
A. Seig, E. Ball and J. A. Menninger,
Bull. Amer. Acad. Psychiatry & the Law
23(4): 523-32, 1995.
This study was undertaken to investigate the authors' clinical impression that there are significant
differences between the male and female insanity acquittees in Colorado, and that these differences
result in significantly different treatment needs. The study sample included 149 patients: 112 men
and 37 women committed to the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo as not guilty by reason
of insanity (NGRI). Data were collected from a computerized data system and from chart reviews.
The study provides descriptive data regarding demographic, legal, and mental health parameters of
these acquittees. Demographic items included prior history of incarceration, age at first arrest, type
of NGRI crime committed, and severity of NGRI crime. Mental health variables included prior
psychiatric hospitalization history of suicide attempts, substance abuse history, inpatient substance
abuse treatment history, diagnoses, escape history and length of stay. Percentages of male and female
subjects were calculated for those variables with discrete categories. Means and medians were
calculated for continuous variables. Results indicate that women are significantly more likely to be
given a diagnosis of mood disorder or borderline personality disorder, are significantly older than
men at the time of commitment, and are statistically more likely to have committed a single violent
crime than men. Men were found to have a significantly higher rate of prior and current substance
abuse, a significantly higher rate of antisocial personality disorder, a significantly greater history of
violent crime prior to the NGRI offense, and arrests beginning at a significantly younger age than
women. Despite the higher severity of crime rating for women, their length of stay was significantly
shorter than for men. The implications of the findings with regard to different treatment needs are
discussed, and the findings are compared to four other studies addressing female versus male insanity
acquittees in other states.