Repeated arson: Data from criminal records

Department of Psychiatry, University of Heidelberg, Germany.
Forensic Science International (Impact Factor: 2.12). 05/1999; 101(1):49-54. DOI: 10.1016/S0379-0738(99)00012-2
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The criminal careers of all arsonists convicted in former West-Germany between 1983 and 1985 who were found not to be responsible due to diminished responsibility for psychiatric reasons and a random sample (every third) of all criminally liable arsonists during the same period of time were followed up until 1994 by means of their trial records. Reappearance before the court for arson did not differ between the groups. When subjects are grouped by the additional occurrence of crimes other than arson, however, arsonists with diminished responsibility are the most problematic group: In comparison with all other subgroups, the arsonists who were partly responsible who did not commit any crimes other than arson showed the highest number of fire-setting incidents. Among the arsonists who committed other crimes as well, arsonists with diminished responsibility had the highest number of additional offences.

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    ABSTRACT: This study investigated unique risk factors for firesetting in a population of deliberate firesetters (n=207) who appeared before courts between 2004 and 2009. It aimed to investigate differences between firesetting and non-firesetting offenders and determine whether offenders with only arson offences (exclusive) differed from those with more versatile (firesetting and other offence types) offending careers. Four-way comparisons were made between non-firesetters, exclusive firesetters, predominant firesetters and mixed firesetters. The demographic, criminological and clinical characteristics of firesetters were compared with a random sample of non-firesetting offenders using information from court files. The findings suggest that deliberate firesetters and other offenders are similar on key characteristics, although firesetters are more likely to be unemployed and to have a greater prevalence of psychiatric disorders. When comparing exclusive firesetters with the other groups, few differences emerged, including the incidence of past firesetting. It was concluded that firesetters are mostly versatile offenders, and this pattern of offending is associated with greater levels of criminogenic need than exists among non-firesetting offenders.
    Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology 10/2013; 24(5):549-569. DOI:10.1080/14789949.2013.821514 · 0.88 Impact Factor
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    Revista de la Facultad de Medicina, Universidad Nacional de Colombia 09/2012; 60(3):207--213.
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    ABSTRACT: PurposeFiresetters have traditionally been considered dangerous repeat offenders. However, the specific risk factors associated with firesetting recidivism have not been consistently tested in representative samples. It is also unclear whether individuals whose offending is limited to firesetting are at increased risk of reoffending when compared with firesetters who have more versatile offending. This study aimed to: (1) determine the rate of firesetting recidivism in a representative sample of firesetters before the courts; and (2) determine the psychiatric and criminogenic factors that are related to firesetting recidivism.Methods The study employed a data linkage approach to examine the psychiatric and criminal histories of 1052 firesetters convicted of arson between 2000 and 2009 in Victoria, Australia. The characteristics of those who reoffended, over a follow-up period of 2.5–11 years, by committing arson and arson-related offences were compared with those who went on to reoffend in other ways but not arson. An improper model was used to determine which of the tested variables could meaningfully predict firesetting recidivism.ResultsThe rate of firesetting recidivism, based on charges, was very low (5.3%) compared with the rate of general recidivism (55.4%); the vast majority of firesetting recidivists were mixed (criminally versatile) offenders (91%). The study found that general criminality, firesetting history, and psychiatric disorder were associated with firesetting recidivism.Conclusions When assessing risk of firesetting recidivism, clinicians need to consider general criminality in addition to fire-specific history, and the potential impacts of mental disorder on recidivism.
    04/2014; DOI:10.1111/lcrp.12052