Reports

Reducing Recidivism for Justice-Involved Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury

Project Abstract

Reducing Colorado’s high rate of recidivism (50%) and technical violations is critical to relieving the state’s overburdened corrections systems. This requires a better understanding of the populations most at risk for supervision failure and re-offense, including the almost half of probationers with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Colorado probationers with TBI have higher rates of prior felony conviction, lower rates of successful probation completion, and are significantly more likely to re-offend than their peers. Female probationers with TBI, who tend to have a history of multiple TBIs from violent circumstances, appear especially vulnerable to poor outcomes. Risk assessments conducted on probationers with TBI show they are more likely to be high risk, requiring intensive supervision rather than regular probation. Although this study focuses on probationers, it is reasonable to expect that inmates and parolees experience similar or even higher rates of TBI and the associated behavioral consequences.

Thus, the findings from this study suggest that four key steps can be taken to support individuals with TBI in the criminal justice system in successfully completing incarceration and/or supervision, re-entering the community, and avoiding re-offense. These include:

  • training criminal justice staff about the prevalence and consequences of TBI;
  • ensuring the criminal justice population is screened for TBI and that those identified are also screened for impairment;
  • tailoring the approach to management of individuals with TBI and providing specific strategies to mitigate the effects of the identified impairment; and
  • educating individuals with TBI so they can better understand how their TBI affects them and learn how to compensate for their deficits.

Agencies: 

Colorado Judicial Branch, Division of Probation Services

Colorado Department of Human Services, MINDSOURCE Brain Injury Network

Research Partners: 

University of Denver