Trauma Informed Criminal Justice-Part 2

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Monday - February 20, 2017.

How prevalent is a history of trauma among people who are incarcerated or otherwise in the criminal justice system? According to SAMHSA's GAINS Center, here are some statistics:

* the MacArthur Mental Health Court (MHC) study documented trauma histories of 311 mental health court participants in three states and found that:

- 70% of women and 25% of men were sexually abused or raped before age 20

- 67% of women and 73% of men experienced child physical abuse (any kind other than sexual abuse)

- 61% of women and 68% of men had experienced their parents beating or hitting them with a belt, whip or strap

- 46% of women and 27% of men had witnessed their parents hitting or throwing things at each other

- 39% of women and 28% of men had experienced having the father-figure in their childhood home being arrested

- 25% of women and 20% of men had experienced the father-figure in their childhood home using drugs

SAMHSA's GAINS Center also reports findings from the Targeted Capacity Expansion (TCE) for Jail Diversion Study, a 5-year study of men and women with co-occuring mental health and substance use disorders who were in jail diversion programs. This study was funded by SAMHSA from 2002 - 2007. The TCE researchers found that:

* 96% of the women and 89% of the men in jail diversion programs reported lifetime trauma

* 74% of the women and 86% of the men in jail diversion programs reported current trauma

SAMHSA draws the following conclusions from the research on trauma among justice-involved individuals:

"There are high levels of trauma in both men and women, and in justice-involved individuals. Based on these statistics, it is safe to assume that everyone who comes into contact with the justice system has a history of trauma, so criminal justice professionals should take 'universal precautions'."

At Lancaster County Prison, over the past couple of years, the Family Services Advocate, Jen Strasenburgh, has administered the ACEs Quiz to incarcerated parents to assess the amount of trauma they have experienced in their lifetimes. The results, compared to the original CDC/Kaiser Permanente ACEs study, are shown below:

 

 

 

About the Author

Melanie G. Snyder

Melanie G. Snyder

Melanie G. Snyder serves as the Executive Director of the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO). She was a featured TEDx speaker at the first-ever TEDx event in Lancaster.  http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Breaking-out-of-prison-thinking 

She is an NIC-certified Offender Workforce Development Specialist, a certified Global Career Development Facilitator, and a certified instructor for the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Healing Communities model. She is also a trained restorative justice mediator.

Prior to Melanie's involvement with the RMO, she spent several years researching and writing the book Grace Goes to Prison: An Inspiring Story of Hope and Humanity (Brethren Press, 2009), which tells the true story of a woman who volunteered in Pennsylvania's state prisons for over 30 years, creating inmate education and reentry programs based on principles of restorative justice. After Grace Goes to Prison was published, Melanie traveled throughout the United States, doing speaking engagements and meeting with other reentry and restorative justice professionals to discuss criminal justice issues and exchange information and ideas.