NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Relationships between Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment and Juvenile Crime

Alison Evans Cuellar, Sara Markowitz, Anne M. Libby

NBER Working Paper No. 9952
Issued in September 2003
NBER Program(s):Health Economics, Children

The purpose of this paper is to examine the effectiveness of mental health and substance abuse treatment in reducing crimes committed by juveniles. The observed high correlations between crime, substance abuse and poor mental health suggests that factors which reduce substance abuse and improve mental health may also be effective in reducing criminal activities. This paper uses detention data in conjunction with substance abuse and mental health treatment data for youth enrolled in the Colorado state foster care program. We analyze the impact of treatment in delaying or preventing this group of at-risk youth from engaging in criminal behavior. Results show a negative effect, i.e., longer duration before detention, for youth who receive treatment and for youth in areas with high treatment rates.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w9952

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