2013. Vol.4, No.3, 153-158
Published Online March 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/psych) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/psych.2013.43022
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 153
Domestic Violence, Alcohol Consumption and Depression
in Criminal Population
Patricia Martínez Lanz, María José Fernández Díaz
Universidad Anáhuac, México City, México
Received November 21st, 2012; revised January 2nd, 2013; accepted February 5 th, 2013
The objective of this research was to determine the differences in levels of domestic violence, alcohol and
depression by type of crime committed on 259 men and 200 women inmates of the Centre for Social Re-
habilitation in Mexico. To assess alcohol consumption indicators were adapted from the National Addic-
tion Survey, the CES-D was used to measure depressive symptoms and in terms of domestic violence, we
designed a 16-reactive scale evaluating: verbal aggression, physical aggression, humiliation and respect.
The results showed significant differences not by gender but by type of crime committed, specifically on
domestic violence, in which was found that women had higher scores than men. Furthermore, the analysis
by type of crime committed found a higher number of subjects with severe consumption that health dam-
ages and homicides. Regarding depressive symptoms, the results showed that women had higher scores
than men; however, these differences were not significant. In conclusion, data indicate relevant differ-
ences by gender in terms of domestic violence, depressive symptoms and substance use, but not so, on the
type of crime by substance consumption, depression or family violence.
Keywords: Violence; Alcohol Consumption; Depression; Criminal Population; Gender
According to the results of the Sixth National Survey on In-
security (Citizens’ Institute for Studies on Insecurity, 2009) on
the rate of criminal behavior in Mexico, during 2008, the num-
ber of complaints received showed an increase of 5.7% over the
previous year, from 1622, 304 complaints in 2007 to 1, 714.771
in 2008. However, it is important to note that some studies
estimate that of the total crimes commited, only 22% are re-
ported to the authority and of those, only 15% of cases initiated
a preliminary research.
Due to the increase in criminal behavior, the need to develop
prevention and intervention programs to reduce this problem,
hence, it is important to determine which factors are associated
with the presence of such behavior. According to the literature,
there are multiple causes related to criminal behavior, however,
there have been found some factors that affect more impor-
tantly, for example, low socioeconomic levels, educational
deficiencies , poverty, inadequate family environments, living
in risky neighborhoods and belong to large families (Hernández
& Marquez, 2000; Romero, 2003; Romero & Aguilera, 2002).
On the other hand, some studies have found different risks
for the development of behavior between men and women (Fa-
gan, Van Horn, Hawkins, & Arthur, 2007; Gorman-Smith &
Loeber, 2005; Hart, O’Toole, Price-Sharps, & Shaffer, 2007).
For example, in a study by Fagan et al. (2007) it was found that
men, who had a greater number of peers with criminal behavior,
were more rebellious and had academic failure and were more
likely to commit criminal behavior. As regards women, this
study reported that high scores on family conflict and low lev-
els of attachment to parents were the risk factors to become
involved in criminal behavior.
According to Heise, Pitanguy and Germain (1994), violence
is an important factor in the risk to present criminal behavior,
particularly that which occurs within the family environment
that may include elements such as rape, physical or psycho-
logical abuse and sexual abuse. Rodríguez, Romero, Durand,
Colmenares and Saldivar (2006) indicated that women who go
into crime report having experienced violence from their
parents or those who witnessed the mistreatment of his mother
got, so habituated to this type of behavior that became per-
Others (Cicchetti, 2004; Ireland, Smith, & Thornberry, 2002;
Martínez-Lanz, Betancourt, Rendón, & Burns, 2012; Martínez-
Lanz, Lobo, & Vecchi, 2012; Pérez & Pinzon, 2009; Sabol,
Coulton, & Korbin, 2004; Thornberry, Ireland, & Smith, 2001),
suggest that physical abuse and exposure to domestic violence
during childhood are considered important factors for the
presence of behavioral problems in young people, among which
are the criminal c onduct.
In Mexico, Frías, Sotomayor, Varela, Zaragoza, Banda and
Garcia (2000) conducted a study with young offenders, the
authors found a positive relationship between parental physical
abuse and antisocial behavior, criminal behavior of young
people was predicted from antisocial behavior and physical
abuse from the father. The authors conclude that the violent
behavior of parents is a contributing factor to antisocial
behavior which in turn is a prelude to commit criminal acts.
On the other hand, there is evidence that the use and abuse of
substances is a risk factor for aggressive behavior and submit to
commit criminal acts in people with certain psychiatric dis-
orders such as schizophrenia (Strawberries, Tejero, Apiquian,
Loyzaga, García-Anaya, & Nicolini, 2002). Other authors (Nor-
strom, 1998; von Hofer, 2003) have reported that alcohol
consumption is strongly associated with criminal behavior such
as homicides and assaults, and that a considerable proportion of
P. M. LANZ, M. J. F. DÍAZ
violent crimes are committed by individuals who have con-
sumed alcohol or drugs (Grann & Fazel, 2004; Pérez & Pinzon,
Another aspect that has been linked to criminal behavior are
mental disorders, for example, Huizinga and Jakob-Chien
(1998) and Vicens, Tort, Dueñas, Muro, Pérez-Arnau, Arroyo
et al., (2012) found that youth who have committed some type
of criminal behavior have high levels of mental disorders com-
pared to youth who do not have done this type of behavior. In a
review by Fazel and Danesh (2002) showed that mental disor-
ders may be more common in prison population compared with
the normal population, however, the findings vary considerably
between studies, where some reported prevalence of 37% and
other of up to 94%.
Among mental disorders, one that often occurs is depression.
Some studies report significant relationships between depres-
sive symptoms and the presence of antisocial behavior (Chiles,
Cleve, Jemelka, & Trupin, 1980; Pliszka, Sherman, Barrow, &
Irick, 2000; Vermeiren, Deboutte, Ruchkin, & Schwab-Stone,
2002). Nebbitt and Lombe (2008) found that youth who re-
ported a greater number of behaviors were those who reported
having favorable attitudes toward deviant behavior, having a
high exposure to peers with delinquent behavior and having
Recent research indicates that the level of mental health in
adolescents moderates the influence of individual and social
fac to rs on a nti soc ia l behavior (Nebbitt & Lombre, 2008, Novak,
Burgess, & Clark, 2003; Stewart, Karp, Phil, & Peterson, 1997).
It is suggested that psychological functioning (for example,
depression) serve as moderating variables between exposure to
environmental stressors and behavior risk to health (Sand-
Although depression is associated with the carrying out of
antisocial and criminal behavior, there is also evidence to sug-
gest that once the person was detained for committing criminal
behavior may suffer from depressive disorders due to the social,
economic and family the penalty involved (Martínez-Lanz,
Betancourt, Rendón, & Burns, 2012; Romero & Aguilar, 2002).
For example, Galván, Romero, Rodríguez, Durand, Colmenares
& Saldivar (2006) reported a relationship between the fre-
quency of visits in prison with the presence or absence of de-
pression, specifically in women, i.e., women who did not re-
ceive visitors in about a month or longer have an increased
number of depressive episodes. Another factor that the authors
report is the forced separation of the women and their children.
Based on the literature review, the hypothesis being tested in
this research is whether the inmates of a prison in Mexico who
committed more violent crimes, have higher scores of domestic
violence, depressive symptoms and increased substance use
(prior the admission to prison), than those who committed
crimes with less violence. Hence, the objective was to deter-
mine the differences in levels of domestic violence, alcohol
consumption and depression on the type of crime committed
between men and women inmates of Social Rehabilitation Cen-
tre (CERESO) the state of Morelos, Mexico.
A total of 459 participants were involved, of whom 200 were
women (total female population in detention) and 259 men
(sample of detained male population) who were inmates of
Soc i a l R ehab i litation Ce n tr e ( C E R E S O ) of the State of Morelos,
Mexico. The average age of women was 36.7 years and men
42.5 years. Both men and women the highest percentage men-
tioned living together (40% for women and 39.1% for men).
Regarding the school level, a greater number of women re-
ported having incomplete primary (30.2%), followed by com-
ple te pr ima ry (27. 5%) and t hirdly, complete secondary (19.5%).
Referring to men, the highest percentage referred to the com-
plete secondary (26.3%), second, completed primary (23.9%),
and followed by incomplete primary (23.1%).
To assess alcohol consumption four indicators used in the
National Survey of Addictions 1993 were adjusted (Tapia,
Cravioto, De la Rosa, Kuri, & Gomez, 1995). They measured
the amount and type of alcoholic beverage consumed (prior
sentence), with 4 response options for each four indicators:
from not consume at all to consume more than five drinks on a
To measure current depressive symptomatology Schedule of
Center for Epidemiologic Studies was used (CES-D) (Radloff,
1977; Mariño Medina-Mora, Chaparro, & González-Forteza,
1993), which consists of 20 items to measure the presence and
duration of depressive symptoms during the week prior to im-
plementation. We adapted the scale Child Abuse Scale (Vladi-
mirsky, Sanchez, & Marin, 2003) to measure family violence
(prior to entering the CERESO); the final scale was composed
for 16 items that measure: verbal aggression, physical aggres-
sion, humiliation and respect.
To verify that the information obtained would be valid and
reliable, pilot tests on the instruments were carried out, for both
men and women. Results of the validity of the scale of Domes-
tic Violence, showed that the items were regrouped into the
four dimensions of the original scale (verbal aggression, physi-
cal aggression, humiliation and respect) and showed adequate
reliability ( = .83). For the CES-D, exploratory factor analy-
sis showed three factors: negative affect, positive affect and
feelings of failure and attention, the reliability of the instrument
was acceptable ( = .74).
The authorities of the Social Rehabilitation Center of More-
los, Mexico, solicited a study on depression of the inmates and
the authors insisted on study other variables such as substance
consumption and family violence.
The CERESO authorities assigned personnel to assist in the
application of the instruments and they were capacitated. This
staff explained to the inmates the purpose of the research, the
contents of the instrument, the confidentiality of the informa-
tion and asked for their voluntary participation and their con-
sent to answer the instrument in order to have a better under-
standing of this variables. Doubts were clarified.
After training, the staff of the institution made the application
of this instrument in one session for each gender. When instru-
ments were done, participants placed them in sealed envelopes
in a box before leaving the space where they are applied.
Data analysis was conducted with SPSS version 20: descrip-
tive analysis to examine the distribution of participants in each
of these variables and inferential analysis for hypothesis testing.
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
P. M. LANZ, M. J. F. DÍAZ
As regards to the type of offense and gender of participants,
we found a statistically significant relation (X2 = 41.49, p
< .001). As shown in Figure 1, a greater number of participants,
both men and women, were detained for committing health
damages. In the case of women, in second place was detected
those who were in prison for kidnapping, for men was murder.
Thirdly, for women were those who committed robbery and
rape for men.
Levels of domestic violence, alcohol and depression by
gender, significant relationships were found for the three
variables (see Table 1). The results showed that men were
more common to have low levels of violence, alcohol con-
sumption and depression. In the case of women, they had high
levels in both violence and alcohol consumption and de-
Figure 2 shows the results on the relationship between levels
of violence by type of crime committed. The findings showed a
significant relationship (X2 = 33.52, p < .001) between levels of
violence and type of crime committed, as you can see, the
crime where a larger number of participants had severe levels
of violence was damage to health (41%), followed by those
who committed homicide (23.1%) and third place were those
who committed robbery (15.4%).
11.4 13.7 15.7
Type of crime committed by gender.
Levels of violence, alcohol and depression by gender.
Level % % X2
Low 86.0 -
High 11.7 77.8
Severe 2.3 22.2
Low 51.2 47.2
High 30.2 52.8
Severe 18.6 -
Low 54.3 32.9
High 41.3 51.4
Severe 4.5 15.8
Note: ***p < .001.
In terms of alcohol consumption levels for the crime
committed, the results indicated that there is no significant
relationship between these variables (X2 = 6.43, p >.05). As can
be seen in Figure 3, 41% of subjects who had a severe level of
consumption were those who committed health damages,
followed by those who committed homicide (20.5%).
With respect to levels of depression for the crime committed,
the results showed no significant relationship (X2 = 7.47, p
> .05). In Figure 4, we can see that, as in the previous analysis,
the highest percentage (42.4%) participants who had severe
levels of depression were those who are detained for com-
mitting health damages, second were those who committed
murder and other crimes (15.2%, respectively).
To determine the differences between family violence, al-
cohol and depression among men and women by type of crime,
we used an analysis of variance (see Table 2) that showed
significant effects by sex (F = 12.43, p < .001), but not by
crime (F = 1.05, p > .05). In regards to the interaction of sex by
type of crime, the results were significant only for family
violence, where women had higher scores in violence in most
crimes except in health damages compared to men.
Levels of violence by type of crime.
Levels of alcohol consumption by type of crime.
Homic i de
epression levels by type of crime. D
Copyright © 2013 SciRes. 155
P. M. LANZ, M. J. F. DÍAZ
Copyright © 2013 SciRes.
Violence, alcohol and depression by gender and crime.
Violence Alcohol consumption Depression
M SD M SD M SD
Male 17.9 4.9 7.7 3.8 23.1 9.8
Robbery Female 18.7 3.5 6.0 3.4 30.2 4.2
Male 17.4 1.5 8.1 3.3 24.5 3.7
Kidnapping Female 19.2 3.1 6.4 3.7 28.0 4.8
Male 17.0 3.6 7.7 4.1 27.0 4.6
Rape Female 19.7 4.7 7.0 5.2 23.3 2.1
Male 17.7 2.4 8.5 3.7 26.2 3.8
Crimes vs health Female 17.6 2.2 5.9 2.9 29.6 4.3
Male 16.9 3.7 8.0 4.1 25.9 6.3
Homicide Female 21.9 5.5 7.1 4.4 29.0 4.7
Male 16.9 1.9 8.3 4.3 25.6 5.6
Others Female 19.2 4.6 5.8 2.3 29.1 4.2
Sex and type of crime F= 3.49** .41 1.65
Note: **p < .01.
The purpose of this study was to examine the differences in
domestic violence, alcohol consumption and depressive sym-
ptoms on the type of crime committed between men and
women inmates of Social Rehabilitation Centre (CERESO) of
the State of Morelos, this with the purpose of having evidence
to develop strategies for prevention of criminal conduct, and to
build health care programs for the prison population in these
The proportion of prisoners with some grade of upper educa-
tion was lower than that reported for the general population
which was 14.5% in 2005 (INEGI, 2005). The marginalization
and violence in childhood home had a negative association with
habitual drug and alcohol consumption and family violence that
could be related to alcohol and drug use in the childhood loca-
In general, the results showed significant differences by sex
but not by type of crime committed, specifically domestic
violence, which found that women had higher scores than men.
According to Rodriguez, Romero, Durand, Colmenares and
Saldivar (2006), women who commit criminal acts are those
that most often reported having experienced some form of
violence at home, which, according to these authors could be an
enabling environment that favors getting involved in this kind
Related to alcohol consumption prior to admission to the
prison, although differences were not statistically significant,
the findings show that men had higher scores than women.
Furthermore, the analysis by type of crime committed, found
that a higher number of subjects with severe consumption were
entered on charges of health damages and homicides, which
agrees with the proposal by other authors (Grann & Fazel, 2004;
Norstrom, 1998; Von Hofer, 2003) whom suggest that alcohol
consumption is associated with the presence of criminal acts
such as murder and assault.
The results of this study showed that women had more
depressive symptoms than men; however, these differences
were not significant. According to Rom ero and Aguilera (20 02),
the fact of being detained in one of these rehabilitation centers
could be related to depressive symptoms due to the various
constraints (social, familiar and economic), specifically in
women, Galván, Romero, Rodriguez, Durand, Colmenares and
Saldivar (2006) found that the low frequency of visits and the
separation from their children are issues that are related to the
presence of depressive episodes.
As shown in other studies of mexican delinquency (Nevarez-
Sida, 2012), criminal activity related to substance abuse
importantly increases the possibility that the prisoner consumed
P. M. LANZ, M. J. F. DÍAZ
drugs and alcohol prior to detention. Once in prison, the
relation between the type of crime and substance abuse is not as
relevant. The negative impact of prison—since alcohol and
drug consumption in prison is generalized—the abuse is deter-
mined by availab ili ty of the substances.
As mentioned previously, the information obtained by this
study, is a relevant tool as well as an important element of
analysis for the development of intervention strategies, preven-
tive policies and developing intervention programmes in the
crime field (by prison, by the government by psychologists,
Considering the fact that most of these women and men had
a childhood and probably a lifetime living near of at least one
mental disorder, -including substance misuse disorders and
personality disorders-, indicates a need for improving services,
particularly within the prisons. Planning and improving psy-
chological services for sentenced prisoners may be an opportu-
nity to treat disorders related to substance use, violence and
depression and to demonstrate the importance of community
detection and monitoring programmes aiming prevention of
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