This research assesses whether family instability, childhood conduct disorder and childhood abuse contribute to later criminal justice involvement or incarceration in homeless Veterans.
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 examines the association between three types of childhood problems, family instability, conduct disorder behaviors, 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.
Tsai, J. and Rosenheck, R. A. (2013), Childhood Antecedents of Incarceration and Criminal Justice Involvement Among Homeless Veterans. Am J Orthopsychiatry, 83: 545-549.