Personality and criminal outcomes of homeless youth in a Nigerian jail population: results of PDS and MAACL-H assessments

  • Erhabor Sunday Idemudia Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Private Bag X1106, University of Limpopo, Turfloop Campus, Sovenga 0727 South Africa


Objective: The unprecedented incidence of armed robberies and the involvement of young people in these crimes necessitated — as part of a comprehensive study on homelessness and criminal behaviour in Nigeria — an assessmet and comparison of homeless youths incarcerated in prisons with a control group of non-prison and never-homeless youths from the general population using the Psychopathic Deviate Scale (PDS) and the Multiple Affect Adjective Checklist hostility subscale (MAACL-H).
Method: Through in-depth interviews using a questionnaire, data were collected from 100 randomly selected homeless inmates in three Nigerian medium-security prisons aged 15 to 26 (mean = 17.2), and another 100 non-prison and never-homeless youths from the general population aged 15 to 31 (mean = 25.2).
Results: Hypothesis 1 showed a higher score on the PDS (mean = 29.3) and MAACL-H (mean = 21.7) among the homeless group than the non-prison and never homeless group (PDS mean = 21.2) and (MAACL-H = mean 12.5), (PDS (t = (98) = 6.62, p < .05) and MAACL-H (t = (98) = 21.7, p < .0001). The second hypothesis also showed a significant relationship between PDS and the type of crime committed by homeless inmates F (2, 97) = 3.213; p < .05) and the direction of this relationship was higher for PDS and felony followed by misdemeanour offences (p < .05, LSD = 2.81). The MAACL-H did not reach an acceptable level of significance for type of crime.
Conclusion: These findings have significant practical and theoretical implications for personality and criminal outcomes for homeless youths in prisons when compared with non-prison and neverhomeless youths. The study also suggests the need for more research in this direction and a review of antiquated penal policies for children, while the effective roles of governments and non-governmental organisations were also stressed.

Journal of Child and Adolescent Mental Health 2007, 19(2): 137–145

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eISSN: 1728-0591
print ISSN: 1728-0583