Race/Ethnicity, and Behavioral Health Status: First Arrest and Outcomes in a Large Sample of Juvenile Offenders

  • Katherine S. L. Lau
  • Marc B. Rosenman
  • Sarah E. Wiehe
  • Wanzhu Tu
  • Matthew C. Aalsma


The objective of this study was to assess the simultaneous effects of gender, race/ethnicity, and pre-arrest behavioral health (BH) service-use on age at first arrest, and first arrest outcomes. Between January 2004 and December 2011, arrest and medical records were collected on a retrospective longitudinal cohort of 12,476 first-time offenders, ages 8–18 years. Black youth were arrested at younger ages than white or Hispanic youth. Youth with psychiatric problems were arrested at younger ages than youth with substance-use, dual-diagnoses, or no BH problems. Compared to white males, black males had lower odds of detention and BH referrals. Compared to white females, black females had higher odds of release and lower odds of probation, detention, and BH referrals. A significant gender-by-BH problem interaction revealed males and females with previous psychiatric problems were arrested at younger ages than youth with substance, dual-diagnosis, or no prior problems. Implications are discussed.



This study was funded by grants from HRSA/MCHB R40MC08721, provided through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Maternal and Child Health Research Program as well as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R01HS024296; R01HS023318).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© National Council for Behavioral Health 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine S. L. Lau
    • 1
  • Marc B. Rosenman
    • 2
  • Sarah E. Wiehe
    • 2
  • Wanzhu Tu
    • 2
  • Matthew C. Aalsma
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyState University of New York at OneontaOneontaUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsIndiana University School of MedicineIndianapolisUSA

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