Assessing the Mental Health/Offending Relationship Across Race/Ethnicity in a Sample of Serious Adolescent Offenders

Sarah El Sayed, Alex R. Piquero, Carol A. Schubert, Edward P. Mulvey, Lindsay Pitzer, Nicole Leeper Piquero

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13 Citations (Scopus)


We examine the extent to which the relationship between mental health and substance use problems and the risk of rearrest varies across race/ethnicity. Data from the Pathways to Desistance, a longitudinal study of serious adolescent offenders, are used to estimate the risk of rearrest over time. Results show that mental health (except for substance use) does little, above and beyond traditional criminogenic risk markers and control variables, to significantly increase or decrease the risk of rearrest, a finding that was largely replicated across race/ethnicity. Some evidence emerged that the mechanisms by which mental health/substance use disorders and criminogenic risk interact to affect risk of rearrest operated differently across race/ethnic groups. Mental health conditions may have some small relationship to rearrest, but this effect is dwarfed by other more powerful risk factors such as antisocial history. Research is needed assessing the conditions under which mental health is implicated in offending.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-301
Number of pages37
JournalCriminal Justice Policy Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • juveniles
  • mental health problems
  • race/ethnicity
  • recidivism
  • substance abuse

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