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More than Mental Disorder: The Effects of Neighborhoods and Treatment on Recidivism for Probationers with Psychiatric Diagnoses

Award Information

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Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $31,455)

Across the United States, counties struggle to address the social and economic problems
associated with high incarceration rates. Effective strategies for shrinking bloated criminal justice systems are dependent on the ability to identify modifiable recidivism risk factors, alter the mechanisms through which such factors lead to re-arrest, and focus on populations at greatest risk of recidivating (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). Individuals with serious mental disorders (SMD)are overrepresented in jails, and return to custody more frequently than those without SMD (Cloyes et al., 2010; Teplin, 1994). This study seeks to better understand recidivism risk for probationers with SMD, moving beyond psychiatric symptoms and exploring the neglected role of neighborhood risk- and protective- factors. The study goals are (1) assess how strongly
neighborhood risk- and protective- factors predict re-arrest for probationers with SMD,
compared to those without SMD, (2) test whether participation in behavioral health treatment reduces risk of re-arrest for probationers with SMD, and (3) determine whether neighborhood factors alter the effect of treatment participation on re-arrest for probationers with SMD. The
study hypothesizes that neighborhood factors predict re-arrest more strongly for those with SMD, treatment participation is associated with modest reduction in the likelihood of re-arrest, and neighborhood factors moderate the effect of treatment participation on re-arrest, with reduced effects for those living in the riskiest neighborhoods. The outcome is time to recidivism across 18 months among a sample of probationers in San Francisco, California (estimated N=2,431). Geospatial analytic techniques are used to measure neighborhood risk/ protective factors for each probationer’s address, and treatment participation is measured by days receiving
services. Cox proportional hazards are used to provide easily interpretable information on differences in days to re-arrest, and propensity scores are included to isolate effects above and beyond individual risk variables. Results will inform behavioral health and probation interventions by articulating factors that place individuals with SMD at greater risk for reincarceration, ultimately helping increase successful community reentry, and reducing rearrest.

This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law.


Date Created: September 13, 2015