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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Returning home: Challenges to recovery, medication adherence and desistance from crime among parolees with mental illness

  • Author(s): Calhoun, Stacy
  • Advisor(s): Turner, Susan
  • et al.

The majority of research examining why so many individuals with mental illness continue to cycle in and out of the criminal justice system tends to focus on identifying factors that increase their likelihood of violent and general reoffending. However, individuals with mental illness returning to their communities after being released from prison often have a wide variety of needs and issues that negatively impact their ability to successfully reintegrate back into society. These needs and issues tend to be complex, interrelated and only partially understood. Thus, the purpose of this dissertation is to broaden the focus of reentry research on justice-involved individuals with mental illness by examining factors that may pose as barriers to mental health recovery, psychiatric medication adherence, substance abuse recovery, and desistance from crime among a sample of parolees receiving psychiatric treatment during their first six months following release from prison. The major finding from this dissertation revealed that self-reported drug use during the six-month follow-up period was associated with a decreased likelihood of psychiatric morbidity, low medication adherence and reoffending. However, when examining the interaction of drug use and psychiatric symptoms, the findings showed that psychiatric symptoms were associated with an increased likelihood of reoffending among those who used drugs. With regard to drug use, lower levels of psychiatric medication adherence were associated with an increased likelihood of drug use during the follow-up period. Overall, the findings highlight the need for additional research that examines the underlying reasons why some individuals continue to experience persistent symptoms despite receiving psychiatric medications to treat their mental health problem.

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