Predictors of Incarceration of Veterans Participating in U.S. Veterans' Courts

Psychiatr Serv. 2017 Feb 1;68(2):144-150. doi: 10.1176/ Epub 2016 Oct 17.


Objective: Significant variability exists regarding the criteria and procedures used by different veterans' courts (VCs) across the country. Limited guidance is available regarding which VC model has the most successful outcomes. The purpose of this study was to examine factors associated with incarceration during VC participation.

Methods: This study used data for 1,224 veterans collected from the HOMES (Homeless Operations Management and Evaluation System) database of the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as data from a national phone survey inventory of all U.S. VCs. To identify variables associated with incarceration during VC participation, four backward conditional logistic regressions were performed.

Results: The following variables were associated with higher rates of incarceration because of a veteran's noncompletion of the VC program: charges of probation or parole violations, longer stays in the VC program, end of VC participation because of incarceration for a new arrest or case transfer by the legal system, and requiring mental health follow-up but not undergoing treatment. The following variables were associated with lower rates of incarceration: stable housing and participating in a VC program that referred veterans for substance abuse treatment.

Conclusions: This study offers VCs a thorough review of an extensive set of recidivism data. Further investigation is necessary to understand the impact of VCs.

Keywords: Criminal law; Veterans issues.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Crime / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Ill-Housed Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Mentally Ill Persons / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Recidivism / statistics & numerical data
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy
  • United States / epidemiology
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Veterans / statistics & numerical data*