Predictors of criminal justice system trajectories of homeless adults living with mental illness

Int J Law Psychiatry. 2016 Sep-Dec;49(Pt A):75-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2016.05.013. Epub 2016 Jun 11.


Objectives: This study examines whether baseline profiles of criminal justice involvement are independently associated with 24-month trajectories of arrests in a sample of homeless adults living with mental illness.

Methods: Interviews with justice-involved participants from the At Home/Chez soi project, a multisite trial of Housing First in Canada, yielded information related to arrests, as well as demographic, clinical, and contextual predictors of criminal justice system involvement. All potential predictors were entered into logistic and negative binomial regression models to assess their effect on re-arrest.

Results: Of the 584 individuals involved with the criminal justice system at baseline, and for whom follow-up data was obtained, 347 (59%) were re-arrested within two years. Of those, 283 (82%) had an episodic pattern of re-arrest and 64 (18%) had a continuous trajectory of re-arrest. Results indicate that participants involved with the legal system for minor (mostly theft and public order) offenses at baseline were most likely to be repeatedly arrested. Gender, Aboriginal status, and recent victimization were also independently associated with re-arrest.

Conclusions: These findings have implications for the delivery of police and clinical services alike, as well as for policies that aim to divert vulnerable individuals who commit minor crimes from a long-term trajectory of justice involvement.

Keywords: Arrest; Community services; Housing; Police; Victimization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data
  • Criminal Law / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Ill-Housed Persons / psychology*
  • Ill-Housed Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy

Grant support