Incarceration Among Male Veterans: Relative Risk of Imprisonment and Differences Between Veteran and Nonveteran Inmates


This article explores the imprisonment of male veterans, including the risks to this group and the risk in comparison to nonveteran groups. Differences are examined based on age and race/ethnicity, as well as the prevalence of certain risk factors, for example health status, socioeconomic characteristics and exposure to trauma.


Using data from national surveys of jail and prison inmates conducted in 2002 and 2004, the authors found that male veterans in the age group that entered military service in the early years of the All Volunteer Force (AVF) were at greater risk of incarceration than nonveterans of similar age and ethnicity, whereas veterans who enlisted in later years of the AVF had less risk of incarceration than nonveterans. Although White veterans tend to have greater risk of incarceration than nonveteran Whites, Black and Hispanic veterans were at less risk than their nonveteran peers, although they are at greater risk than White veterans. These patterns are best explained by changes over time and in differential effects across racial/ethnic groups of recruiting practices, accession standards, and in civilian employment opportunities rather than combat trauma or other adverse experiences in the military. For example, reductions in the relative risk for incarceration of veterans during the AVF appear to generally result from increases in recruit qualifications and socioeconomic status due to greater military pay, improved skill in recruiting, and higher accession standards.

Full Reference

Greenberg, Greg A and Robert A Rosenheck. "Incarceration among male veterans: relative risk of imprisonment and differences between veteran and nonveteran inmates." International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology 56 4 (2012): 646-67.