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:

 

 

 

How being trauma-informed improves criminal justice responses

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Wednesday - February 01, 2017.

"Although prevalence estimates vary, there is consensus that high percentages of justice-involved women and men have experienced serious trauma throughout their lifetime. The reverberating effects of traumatic experiences can challenge a person's capacity for recovery and pose significant barriers to accessing services, often resulting in an increased risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system." – SAMHSA GAINS Center – "How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses"

In our previous series of articles about the connections between trauma, addiction, mental health and crime, we presented . . . 

The ACEs Quiz

on Monday - May 30, 2016.

Continuing our series of articles on childhood trauma and criminal justice responses, below is the ACEs quiz to determine someone's ACEs score.

Several key findings from the original CDC/Kaiser Permanente ACEs study are especially noteworthy:

The original study was conducted with 17,500 predominately middle class, Caucasian, college-educated American adults who had good health insurance.  And in that population:

* 63% of them had experienced at least 1 Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE)

* 50% of them had experienced between 1 and 3 ACEs

* 12% of them had experienced 4 or more ACEs.

So ACEs, it turns out, are incredibly common. In later articles in this series, we'll explore some of the specific data on connections between ACEs and health risks, as well as what the research shows about resilience factors and protective factors that can mitigate the potentially harmful effects of trauma, as well as what's needed to heal from childhood trauma. But for now, here's the quiz to determine someone's ACE score.

 

Finding Your ACE Score

While you were growing up, during your first 18 years of life:
1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often...
Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you? or
Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often... Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you? or
Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever...
Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way?
or
Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

4. Did you often or very often feel that ...
No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special? or Your family didn't look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

5. Did you often or very often feel that ...
You didn't have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you? or
Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

6. Were your parents ever separated or divorced?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

7. Was your mother or stepmother:
Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her? or
Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard? or
Ever repeatedly hit at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill, or did a household member attempt suicide?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

10. Did a household member go to prison?

Yes No If yes enter 1 _______

Now add up your "Yes" answers: _________ This is your ACE Score.

Traumatic Childhood Experiences Linked to Adult Addictions, Mental Illness and Crime - Part 2

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Tuesday - July 01, 2014.

As mentioned in the previous article on trauma, ACEs and links to crime, addiction, and mental illness, various studies have found that early psychological trauma may actually cause lasting changes in the brain that are connected with addictions, mental illness and aggressive or violent behavior later in life.

What do these changes in the brain actually look like? The Family Policy Council of Washington State created a presentation on "The High Cost of Adverse Childhood Experiences." Here are a few of the slides from that presentation that explain the changes in the chemical and physical development of the brain ("Biological Effects of Abuse & Neglect") that occur with various traumatic experiences during childhood...

Traumatic Childhood Experiences Linked to Adult Addictions, Mental Illness and Crime

Written by Melanie G. Snyder on Monday - June 30, 2014.

Traumatic Childhood Experiences Linked to Adult Addictions, Mental Illness and Crime

The subject of childhood trauma (often measured as "Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)") and links to substance abuse, mental illness and crime has been getting a lot of attention in the professional criminal justice, mental health and addictions literature over the past few years. In this series of articles, we'll explain ACEs, look at definitions of "trauma", examine some of the relevant research, and what corrections, mental health and addictions professionals need to know.

WHAT ARE "ADVERSE CHILDHOOD EXPERIENCES" (ACEs)?

Adverse Childhood Experiences are when children experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse, emotional or physical neglect, loss of a parent due to separation, divorce, incarceration, abandonment or death; substance abuse and addiction within the family/household, family dysfunction; depression, mental illness or suicide within the family or household, incarceration of any family/household member, or witnessing violence against their mother or stepmother.