Serious mental illness (SMI) represents a major risk for repeated incarceration, yet recidivism studies often do not specifically focus on persons with SMI as compared to non-SMI offenders. The study reported here systematically identified Utah State prisoners released from 1998 to 2002 (N = 9,245) who meet criteria for SMI and compared SMI and non-SMI offenders on length of time to prison return. Findings indicate that 23% of the sample met criteria for SMI (n = 2,112). Moreover, survival analyses demonstrated a significant difference in return rates and community tenure for offenders with SMI compared to non-SMI offenders when controlling for demographics, condition of release, offense type, and condition of return (parole violation vs. new commitment). The median time for all SMI offenders to return to prison was 385 days versus 743 days for all non-SMI offenders, 358 days sooner (p < .001). Implications of these findings are discussed.
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