Research on Mass Incarceration in AJO
Tsai, J. & Rosenheck, R. (2013). Childhood Antecedents of Incarceration and Criminal Justice Involvement Among Homeless Veterans. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 83(4):545-549.
Although criminal justice involvement and incarceration are common problems for homeless veterans, few studies have examined childhood risk factors for criminal justice involvement among veterans. This study examined the association between three types of childhood problems, family instability, conduct disorder behaviors, and childhood abuse, and criminal justice involvement and incarceration in adulthood. Data from 1,161 homeless veterans across 19 sites participating in the Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing program were examined. After controlling for sociodemographics and mental health diagnoses, veterans who reported more conduct disorder behaviors during childhood tended to report more criminal charges of all types, more convictions, and longer periods of incarceration during adulthood. However, the variance explained in criminal behavior by childhood was not large, suggesting that there are other factors that affect the trajectory by which homeless veterans become involved in the criminal justice system. Further research is needed to intervene in the pathway to the criminal justice system and guide efforts to prevent incarceration among veterans.
Roos, L., Afifi, T., Martin, C., Pietrak, R., Tsai, J., & Sareen, J. (2016). Linking Typologies of Childhood Adversity to Adult Incarceration: Findings from a Nationally Representative Sample. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 86(5):584-593.
Ecologically valid typologies of adverse child experiences (ACEs) were identified to investigate the link between ACEs and adult incarceration. In a nationally representative sample (N 34,653, age 20), latent class analysis (LCA) was conducted with childhood maltreatment (physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, interpersonal violence [IPV] exposure, physical neglect) and caregiver maladjustment (substance use, incarceration, mental illness, and suicidal behavior) indicators. LCA identified a 5-typology model (1. Low Adversity Risk; 2. Caregiver Substance Use, and Maltreatment Acts of Omission; 3. Physical and Emotional Maltreatment; 4. Severe Cross-Subtype Maltreatment and Caregiver Substance Use; and 5. Caregiver Maladjustment). Controlling for sociodemographics and substance use problems, logistic regression analyses determined that, compared with the Low Adversity Risk typology, all typologies (except Care- giver Maladjustment) had elevated incarceration risk (adjusted odds ratios: 1.76–4.18). Mal- treatment experiences were more predictive of incarceration for women versus men. Childhood maltreatment confers risk for incarceration beyond established risk factors, but caregiver mal- adjustment, alone, does not. Preventative efforts should focus on understanding and targeting pathways to delinquency for individuals with childhood maltreatment.
Goshen, L. S. (2015). Ethnographic Assessment of an Alternative to Incarceration for Women with Minor Children. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 85(5):469-482.
Allowing criminal justice-involved women to remain with their children in the community may decrease some of the negative intergenerational effects of incarceration. Little is known about potential program models to safely support community coresidence in this population. Ethnographic methods were used to explore the historical development of and life within a supportive housing alternative to incarceration (ATI) program for women with minor children and the health and social needs of resident families. Participants included 8 current and former adult tenants, 12 of their resident children, 3 program staff, the program administrator, and 5 prosecutors who originally conceptualized it. Women also reported information about their 8 nonresident children. Analysis revealed 3 major themes: “The Cycle,” “This is My Home,” and “This Doesn’t Go With That.” While the program built on a core value of family preservation, results illustrate that keeping families together is only the beginning. Clinical and research implications for coresidence ATI programs are discussed in relation to the uniqueness of this context and population.
Padgett, D., Smith, B., Henwood, B., & Tiderington, E. (2012). Life Course Adversity in the Lives of Formerly Homeless Persons with Serious Mental Illness: Context and Meaning. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 82(3):421-430.
This qualitative study assessed the frequency and subjective meaning of adverse experiences using case study analyses of interviews with 38 formerly homeless adults with co-occurring serious mental illness (SMI) and substance abuse histories. Adverse life events were inventoried using an adaptation of Lloyd and Turner’s (2008) 41-item checklist. Participants averaged 8.8 adverse events, with approximately one-third having experienced incarceration (37%), suicidality (32%), abandonment by one or both parents (30%), and death of their mother (34%). Cross-case analyses yielded 3 themes: social losses because of death and estrangement; the significance of chronic stressors as well as acute events; and the cumulative lifetime nature of adversity. Findings suggest that life course experiences of trauma and loss have a cumulative influence in the lives of this population in addition and in relation to SMI, substance abuse, and homelessness. In this context, the mental health recovery movement should address prior adverse experiences beyond comorbid diagnoses in this population.
Pullman, M. D. (2011). Effects of Out-Of-Home Mental Health Treatment on Probability of Criminal Charge During the Transition to Adulthood. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 81(3):410-419.
Criminal justice–related outcomes for youth who have been served in out-of-home mental health settings such as residential treatment and inpatient hospitalization are unclear. This study longitudinally modeled the changing probability of being charged with a crime from age 16 to 25, including being served in out-of-home treatment and aging into adulthood, while controlling for person-level covariates such as gender, race, past criminal charges, and mental health diagnoses. Results indicated that out-of-home treatment was related to a decreased probability of being charged with a crime during treatment. However, the preventive effect was small; estimates indicated only one criminal charge avoided for every 4 years of out-of-home treatment. Out-of-home treatment had no relationship to posttreatment probability of charge. Other significant contributors to being charged included gender, a substance use diagnosis, and an offense record prior to age 16. Evidence indicated that out-of-home treatment was used as an alternative to detention and incarceration for both juveniles and adults.
Gust, L. V. (2012). Can Policy Reduce the Collateral Damage Caused by the Criminal Justice System?: Strengthening Social Capital in Families and Communities. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 82(2):174-180.
This article examines whether criminal justice policy can reduce the collateral damage caused by the criminal justice system and the strengthening of social capital in families and communities. Incarceration can disrupt family functioning in a variety of ways. One of the most immediate outcomes may be a change in family composition or living arrangements. The incarceration of a parent can exacerbate poverty already experienced in a household. In families with an incarcerated father, the loss of financial support and other care may disrupt the mother’s ability to provide for the children. Disruptions in close relationships between parents may weaken the bonds between a parent and child. Even when all parties wish to maintain contact during prison terms, the security mission of prisons makes visiting extremely difficult. Family instability, financial struggles, and strained relationships contribute to the emotional stress that families with an incarcerated parent experience. Changes in family structure, location, and emotional ties may all contribute to difficulties in family reunification. A comprehensive approach to criminal justice reform that emphasizes fostering social capital requires a recognition that incarceration is an important experience not only for offenders but also for their families and communities.
Barbarin, O. A. (2010). Halting African American Boys' Progression from Pre-K to Prison: What Families, Schools, and Communities Can Do!. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 80(1):81-88.
Incarceration is a much more common experience for African American males than White males. The ‘‘school-to-prison’’ pipeline is often invoked as a metaphor to capture the seemingly inexorable progression of African American boys. The rationale for this approach is that the more African American preschool males there are in the United States, the more prisons that will be needed when those young children become young adults. Of the approximately six hundred thousand 4-year-old African American males growing up in the United States in 2008, prisons are being planned to house 28,134 of them by 2029. We need concerted, coordinated, and multi-systemic efforts if we are to be successful in improving the conditions under which African American boys are growing up and ultimately their outcomes. An all-out effort is needed to mobilize community networks on behalf of the boys, raise awareness of the problems in communities, strengthen appropriate practices in families, increase the preparedness of early childhood teachers, expand community-based activities that nurture the role of fathers and father figures in boys’ lives, and promote advocacy around issues of gender equity.