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Structured Evidence Review to Identify Treatment Needs of Justice-Involved Veterans and Associated Psychological Interventions

NCJ Number
Janet C. Blodgett, M.Sc.; Ingrid L. Fuh, B.S.; Natalya C. Maisel, Ph.D.; Amanda M. Midboe, Ph.D.
Date Published
126 pages
In order to facilitate the work of the Department of Veteran Affairs' Veterans Justice Programs (VJP), this review synthesizes research relevant to the unique treatment needs of military Veterans involved in the criminal justice system, with a focus on their mental health needs and evidence-based and promising treatments that address these needs.
The review of research on the treatment needs of justice-involved Veterans found that many of them have mental health needs that may impact their reentry into the community after incarceration, with one study reporting past trauma in 87 percent of Veterans incarcerated in jails. A review of research on the main assessment tools for identifying the mental health treatment needs and recidivism risk level for justice-involved Veterans advises that as a supplement to clinical interview, objective assessment tools can provide information important for linking justice-involved Veterans to appropriate treatment. Suggestions are offered on particular tools and the screening procedure. Regarding specific treatments, the research is limited on evidence related specifically to treatment for justice-involved Veterans with mental health needs. Still, treatments such as Assertive Community Treatment and treatments informed primarily by cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or motivational interviewing are recommended. Research with justice-involved women Veterans shows promise for trauma-informed treatment approaches. The research review reports on the evidence-based or promising psychosocial treatments for justice-involved Veterans at high risk for recidivism. The review also focused on factors that impact access to and engagement in treatment for justice-involved Veterans. It recommends efforts to improve the level of motivation and readiness for treatment by using motivation assessment at the beginning of and throughout treatment. Tools for monitoring changes in motivation and readiness for treatment are suggested. Key research questions were developed in collaboration with VJP program staff, with a focus on synthesizing previous reviews, meta-analyses, and important reports. Tables and references