Psychopathy and substance use predict recidivism in women: A 7-year prospective study

Personal Disord. 2023 Jul;14(4):419-428. doi: 10.1037/per0000615. Epub 2023 Jan 2.


Recidivism places a significant burden on society and efforts aimed at reducing cyclical criminal justice involvement are needed. This prospective study tested the utility of psychopathic traits in predicting general, felony, and substance-related rearrest in women following release from a correctional facility. The extent to which psychopathic traits offered incremental utility in predicting outcomes, above and beyond other established risk factors, including substance use disorder, was examined. Participants included 327 incarcerated adult women who completed comprehensive clinical and psychiatric assessments prior to release from correctional facilities. Psychopathic traits and lifetime substance use disorder were measured using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) and Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders, respectively. Results showed that general, felony, and substance-related rearrest following institutional release were associated with higher PCL-R Factor 2 scores, assessing lifestyle/behavioral and antisocial/developmental psychopathic traits. Additionally, when controlling for other risk factors associated with recidivism, including age at release, number of prior adult prison terms, and substance use disorder, higher PCL-R Factor 2 scores remained significantly associated with rearrest outcomes in women. Findings inform risk prediction and treatment efforts aimed at reducing recidivism in justice-involved women. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2023 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antisocial Personality Disorder / psychology
  • Checklist
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Recidivism*
  • Substance-Related Disorders*