The Effects of Mental Illness on Reoffending Among Juvenile Offenders


The Effects of Mental Illness on Reoffending Among Juvenile Offenders



Patrick Westendorf, Kevin Cook


Presentation: 1:40-2:00 p.m., Humanities 109



A current issue in our criminal justice system today is determining what factors are linked to criminal behavior and reoffending. One factor that can be taken into consideration is mental illness. It is important to examine research among juvenile offenders to see what factors are linked to reoffending. Past research has shown that juvenile offenders with mental health issues are more likely to reoffend than those without mental health issues. The current study will use the Pathways to Desistance dataset, a longitudinal study with a quantitative approach that examines adolescent offenders as they make their transition to early adulthood. 1,354 individuals from Maricopa County, Arizona or Philadelphia, Pennsylvania while being between the ages of fourteen and eighteen at the time of committing their offense. The participants involved in the study completed a baseline interview, follow-up interviews throughout the course of many months, and release interviews within 30 days of release when held in a residential facility. The sampling technique for Pathways to Desistance is a prospective design where the researchers follow and observe a group of participants over time to track information for their data and to see what outcomes will occur based on the information collected. Factors taken into consideration were age, family structure, ethnicity, and gender to determine whether there was a relationship between mental illness and reoffending. Certain variables were re-coded to make them dichotomous variables.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Capstone Project

Primary Advisor

Mark Morgan

Primary Advisor's Department

Criminal Justice and Security Studies


Stander Symposium, College of Arts and Sciences

Institutional Learning Goals


The Effects of Mental Illness on Reoffending Among Juvenile Offenders