Persistence in Crime in Young Adults with a History of Juvenile Delinquency: the Role of Mental Health and Psychosocial Problems

  • Miguel Basto-Pereira
  • Ângela Maia
Original Article


The prevalence of juvenile offenders recidivating and returning to the justice system during young adulthood is alarming. However, the relationship between psychosocial problems and crime in young adults with a history of juvenile offending remains almost unexplored. This study examined the role of mental health and psychosocial problems in criminal indicators among young adults with a history of juvenile delinquency. The protocol was administered in 2014/2015 to young adults with records of juvenile delinquency in 2010/2011, evaluating a set of mental health, psychosocial, and criminal indicators. The results showed that their current psychological distress and drug consumption are related to criminal indicators. Our findings suggest that mental health might play a major role in criminal behavior. Recommendations for the juvenile justice system and social welfare policies are provided.


Juvenile delinquency Psychosocial problems Mental health Recidivism Crime Young adulthood 



The authors truly appreciate all support provided by the professionals of the Direcção Geral de Reinserção e Serviços Prisionais (DGRSP). In addition, we would like to thank the reviewers for their helpful comments and suggestions.

Funding Information

The first author was supported by a doctoral grant from the Foundation of Science and Technology, FCT-Portugal (Reference: SFRH/BD/95190/2013). This study was conducted at the Psychology Research Centre, University of Minho, and supported by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology and the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science through national funds and when applicable co-financed by FEDER under the PT2020 Partnership Agreement (UID/PSI/01662/2013).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human Rights

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000(5).

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology Research Centre, School of PsychologyUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal

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