Psychiatric Quarterly

, Volume 80, Issue 1, pp 41–53 | Cite as

Mental Health and Other Risk Factors for Jail Incarceration Among Male Veterans

  • Greg A. Greenberg
  • Robert A. Rosenheck
Original Paper


Data derived from the 2002 Survey of Inmates in Local Jails and the 2000 National Survey of Veterans show that having mental health problems in addition to such sociodemographic characteristics as being a member of a minority group, not being married, having less education, and being younger are risk factors for incarceration among veterans, as they are for the general population. As in previous studies veterans who served during the Vietnam Era and to an even greater extent, those who served in the early years of the All Volunteer Force were at greater risk of incarceration than veterans from the most recent period of the AVF, after controlling for age and other factors.


Veterans Mental health Incarceration Sociodemographic Jail 


  1. 1.
    Bonczar TP: Prevalence of imprisonment in the U.S. population, 1974–2001. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. Washington, DC, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, August 2003. Accessed at on September 5, 2007
  2. 2.
    Freeman RB: Why do so many young American men commit crimes and what might we do about it? The Journal of Economic Perspectives 10(1):25–42, 1996Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Harrison P, Beck AJ: Prisoners in 2005. Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin. Washington, DC, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, November 2006. Accessed at on September 5, 2007
  4. 4.
    Mauer M: Comparative international rates of incarceration: An examination of causes and trends. Presented to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Washington, DC, The Sentencing Project. June 20, 2003. Accessed at on September 5, 2007
  5. 5.
    Western B: Punishment and Inequality in America. New York, Russell Sage Foundation, 2006Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chiricos T, Delone M: Labor surplus and punishment: A review and assessment of theory and evidence. Social Problems, 39 (4):421–446, 1992. doi: 10.1525/sp.1992.39.4.03x0047u CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Federal Bureau of Investigation: Crime in the United States 2000: Uniform crime reports. Washington, DC, U.S. Department of Justice, 2001. Accessed at on September 5, 2007
  8. 8.
    James D, Glaze L: Mental health problems of prison and jail inmates. Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report. Washington, DC, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, September 2006. Accessed at on August 10, 2007
  9. 9.
    Lo C: Sociodemographic factors, drug abuse, and other crimes: How they vary among male and female arrestees. Journal of Criminal Justice 32(5):399–409, 2004. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrimjus.2004.06.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Lochner L, Moretti E: The effect of education on crime: Evidence from prison inmates, arrests and self report. The American Economic Review 94(1):155–189, 2004. doi: 10.1257/000282804322970751 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sorensen J, Hope R, Stemen D: Racial disproportionality in state prison admissions: Can regional variation be explained by differential arrest rates? Journal of Criminal Justice, 31:73–84, 2003. doi: 10.1016/S0047-2352(02)00200-3 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Western B, Kleykamp M, Rosenfield J: Did falling wages and employment increase U.S. imprisonment. Social Forces, 84(4):2291–2311, 2006 doi: 10.1353/sof.2006.0114 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Beckerman A, Fontana L: Vietnam veterans and the criminal justice system. Criminal Justice and Behavior 16(4):412–428, 1989. doi: 10.1177/0093854889016004002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Black D, Carney CP, Pelosi PM, et al.: Incarceration and veterans of the first Gulf War. Military Medicine 170(7):612–618, 2005PubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Greenberg G, Rosenheck RA: Incarceration among male veterans: Relative risk of imprisonment and differences between veteran and non-veteran inmates. Criminal Justice and Behavior (submitted)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Levin BJ, Ferrier DO: Defending the Vietnam Combat Veteran. Los Angeles, Vietnam Veterans Legal Assistance Project, 1989Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    McGuire J, Rosenheck RA, Kasprow WJ: Health status, service use, and costs among veterans receiving outreach services in jail or community settings. Psychiatric Services 54(2):201–207, 2003. doi: 10.1176/ PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Mumola C: Veterans in Prison or jail. Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report. Washington, DC, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 2000. Accessed at on September 12, 2007
  19. 19.
    Noonan ME, Mumola C: Veterans in state and federal prisons, 2004. Bureau of Justice Statistics: Special Report. Washington, DC, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 2007. Accessed at on August 1, 2007
  20. 20.
    Saxon AJ, Davis TM, Sloan KL, et al.: Trauma symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, and associated problems among incarcerated veterans. Psychiatric Services 52(7):959–964, 2001. doi: 10.1176/ PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Shaw DM, Churchill CM, Noyes R, et al.: Criminal behavior and post-traumatic stress disorder in Vietnam veterans. Comprehensive Psychiatry 28(5):403–411, 1987. doi: 10.1016/0010-440X(87)90057-5 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics: Survey of inmates in local jails, 2002. Conducted by U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. ICPSR04359-v2. Ann Arbor, MI, Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (producer and distributor). November 21, 2006. Accessed at on November 30, 2006
  23. 23.
    Boivin M J: Forgotten warriors: An evaluation of the emotional well-being of presently incarcerated Vietnam veterans. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs 113(1):109–125, 1987PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Card J: Lives after Vietnam: The Personal Impact of Military Service. Toronto, LexingtonBooks, 1983Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Egendorf A, Kadushin C, Laufer R, et al.: Legacies of Vietnam: Comparative Adjustment of Veterans and their Peers. New York City, The Center for Policy Research, 1981Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Wright JP, Carter DE, Cullen FT: A life-course analysis of military service in Vietnam. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 42(1):55–83, 2005. doi: 10.1177/0022427804270436 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Greenberg G, Rosenheck RA, Desai R: Risk of incarceration among veterans and non veteran men: Are veterans of the All Volunteer Force at greater risk. Armed Forces and Society 33:337–350, 2007. doi: 10.1177/0095327X06296585 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Kulka RA, Schlenger WE, Fairbank JA, et al.: Trauma and the Vietnam War generation: Report of findings from the National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study. New York, Brunner/Mazel, 1990Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Pentland B, Dwyer J: Incarcerated Viet Nam veterans. In: Sonnenberg SM, Blank AS, Talbott JA (Eds) The Trauma of War: Stress and Recovery in Vietnam Veterans. Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press, 1985Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Pentland B, Scurfield R: Inreach counseling and advocacy with veterans in prison. Federal Probation 46(1):21–28, 1982Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Martin R: Who went to war? In: Boulanger G, Kadushin C (Eds) The Vietnam Veteran Redefined: Fact and Fiction. Hillsdale, New Jersey, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1986Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Dorn E: Sustaining the All-Volunteer Forces. In: Fredland JE, Gilroy C, Little RD, Sellman WS (Eds) Professionals in the Front Line: Two Decades of the All Volunteer Force. London, Brasseys, 1996Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Hogan PF, Simon CJ, Warner JT: Sustaining the force in an era of transformation. In: Bicksler BA, Gilroy CL, Warner JT (Eds) The All Volunteer Force: Thirty Years of Service. Washington, DC, Brasseys, 2004Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness: The Population Representation in the Military Services: Fiscal year 1989. Washington, DC, Office of the Secretary of Defense, 1990Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    White JP: Reflections on managing the All-Volunteer Force: Past and future. In: Bicksler BA, Gilroy CL, Warner JT (Eds) The All Volunteer Force: Thirty Years of Service. Washington, DC, Brasseys, 2004Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Oi W: Historical perspectives on the All-Volunteer Force: The Rochester connection. In: Fredland JE, Gilroy C, Little RD, Sellman WS (Eds) Professionals in the Front Line: Two Decades of the All Volunteer Force. London, Brasseys, 1996Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Thurman M: On being all you can be: A recruiting perspective. In: Fredland JE, Gilroy C, Little RD, Sellman WS (Eds) Professionals in the Front Line: Two Decades of the All Volunteer Force. London, Brasseys, 1996Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: 2001 National Survey of Veterans Design and Methodology Final Report. Washington, DC. The 2001 National Survey of Veterans public use data file was provided by the VA Office of Policy and Planning. Accessed at on September 6, 2007
  39. 39.
    Draine J, Salzer MS, Culhane DP, et al.: Role of social disadvantage in crime, joblessness, and homelessness among persons with serious mental illness. Psychiatric Services 53:565–573, 2002. doi: 10.1176/ PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Fisher WH, Roy-Bujnowski K, Grudzinskas AJ, et al.: Patterns and prevalence of arrest in a statewide cohort of mental health care consumers. Psychiatric Services 57:1623–1628, 2006. doi: 10.1176/ PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Lamb HR, Weinberger LE: Persons with severe mental illness in jails and prisons: A review. Psychiatric Services 49:483–492, 1998PubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Steadman HJ, Mulvey EP, Monahan J, et al.: Violence by people discharged from acute psychiatric inpatient facilities and by others in the same neighborhoods. Archives of General Psychiatry 55:393–401, 1998. doi: 10.1001/archpsyc.55.5.393 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Sampson RJ, Laub JH, Wimer C: Does marriage reduce crime? A counterfactual approach to within-individual causal effects. Criminology 44 (3):465–508, 2006. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-9125.2006.00055.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    Rosenheck RA, Frisman LK, Chung A: The proportion of veterans among the homeless. American Journal of Public Health 84(3):466-468, 1994PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Bachman J, Freedman-Doan P, O’Malley P, et al.: Changing patterns of drug use among us military recruits before and after enlistment. American Journal of Public Health 89(5):672–677, 1999PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Robins LN, Davis DH, Nurco DN: How permanent was Vietnam drug addiction? American Journal of Public Health 64:38–43, 1974PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Robins LN, Helzer JE, Davis DH: Narcotic use in Southeast Asia and afterward. An interview study of 898 Vietnam returnees. Archives of General Psychiatry 32:955–961, 1975Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Cooney R, Segal MW, Segal DR, et al.: Racial differences in the impact of military service on the socioeconomic status of women veterans. Armed Forces and Society 30:53–86, 2003. doi: 10.1177/0095327X0303000103 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Fredland E, Little RD: Socioeconomic status of World War II veterans by race: An empirical test of the bridging hypothesis. Social Science Quarterly 66:533–551, 1985Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Teachman J: Race, military service, and marital timing: Evidence from the NLSY-79. Demography 44:389–404, 2007. doi: 10.1353/dem.2007.0018 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Villa MV, Harada ND, Washington D, et al.: The health and functional status of US veterans aged 65+: Implications for VA health programs serving an elderly, diverse veteran population. American Journal of Medical Quality 18:108–116, 2003. doi: 10.1177/106286060301800304 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Lochner L: Education, work, and crime: A human capital approach. International Economic Review 45(3):811–843, 2004. doi: 10.1111/j.0020-6598.2004.00288.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Caulkins JP, Chandler S: Long-run trends in incarceration of drug offenders in the United States. Crime and Delinquency 52:619–640, 2006. doi: 10.1177/0011128705284793 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Caulkins JP, Rydell P, Schwabe WL, et al.: Mandatory Minimum Drug Sentences: Throwing Away The Key or the Taxpayers’ Money? Los Angles, Rand (MR-827-DPRC), 1997Google Scholar
  55. 55.
    Smith A, Polack H: Curtailing the Sentencing Power of Trial Judges: The Unintended Consequences. Court Review. Williamsburg, VA, American Judges Association, pp. 6–7, Summer 1999Google Scholar
  56. 56.
    Tanielian T, Jaycox L: Invisible Wounds of War: Psychological and Cognitive Injuries, their Consequences, and Services to Assist Recovery. Los Angles, Rand, 2008Google Scholar

Copyright information

© GovernmentEmployee: Department of Veterans Affairs 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research, Education and Clinical CenterVA New England Mental IllnessWest HavenUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryYale University School of Epidemiology and Public HealthNew HavenUSA

Personalised recommendations