Variations in mental health problems, substance use, and delinquency between African American and Caucasian juvenile offenders: Implications for reentry services

Michael George Vaughn, John M. Wallace, Larry E. Davis, Giselle T. Fernandes, Matthew O. Howard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

58 Citations (Scopus)


The incarceration of young people is a growing national problem. Key correlates of incarceration among American youth include mental health problems, substance use, and delinquency. The present study uses a statewide sample of incarcerated youth to examine racial differences in African American and Caucasian juvenile offenders' outcomes related to mental health, substance use, and delinquency. The data indicate that relative to Caucasian offenders, African American offenders report lower levels of mental health problems and substance use but higher levels of delinquent behavior such as violence, weapon carrying, and gang fighting. The data further reveal that African American offenders are more likely than Caucasian offenders to be victims of violence and to experience traumatic events such as witnessing injury and death. Recognition of these patterns may help to improve postrelease services by tailoring or adapting preexisting programs to patterns of risk factors and their relative magnitudes of effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)311-329
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Psychology

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