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Am J Orthopsychiatry. 2016;86(5):584-93. doi: 10.1037/ort0000144. Epub 2016 Apr 14.

Linking typologies of childhood adversity to adult incarceration: Findings from a nationally representative sample.

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Department of Psychology, University of Oregon.
Department of Psychiatry, University of Manitoba.
United States Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, VA Connecticut Healthcare System.
Veterans Affairs New England Mental Illness Research, Education, and Clinical Center.


Ecologically valid typologies of adverse child experiences (ACEs) were identified to investigate the link between ACEs and adult incarceration. In a nationally representative sample (N = 34,653, age 20+), latent class analysis (LCA) was conducted with childhood maltreatment (physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, interpersonal violence [IPV] exposure, physical neglect) and caregiver maladjustment (substance use, incarceration, mental illness, and suicidal behavior) indicators. LCA identified a 5-typology model (1. Low Adversity Risk; 2. Caregiver Substance Use, and Maltreatment Acts of Omission; 3. Physical and Emotional Maltreatment; 4. Severe Cross-Subtype Maltreatment and Caregiver Substance Use; and 5. Caregiver Maladjustment). Controlling for sociodemographics and substance use problems, logistic regression analyses determined that, compared with the Low Adversity Risk typology, all typologies (except Caregiver Maladjustment) had elevated incarceration risk (adjusted odds ratios: 1.76–4.18). Maltreatment experiences were more predictive of incarceration for women versus men. Childhood maltreatment confers risk for incarceration beyond established risk factors, but caregiver maladjustment, alone, does not. Preventative efforts should focus on understanding and targeting pathways to delinquency for individuals with childhood maltreatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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