Exploring connections between ACEs and Crime or Substance Abuse

Hello all,

I'm working to create a presentation for Policymakers that presents links between ACEs and later-life outcomes, specifically the chance someone will commit a crime or abuse substances. I'm going to share a little of what I've found in case it helps someone, and then put out my request.

The substance abuse question has a lot of research. I'm thinking of:

  • Dube 2002, "Adverse childhood experiences and personal alcohol abuse as an adult."
  • Dube 2003, "Childhood abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction and the risk of illicit drug use: the adverse childhood experiences study."
  • Felitti 2008, "The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experiences to Adult Health, Well-being, Social Function, and Healthcare."


But most of the research on criminal behavior is with juveniles:

  • Fox 2015, "Trauma changes everything: Examining the relationship between adverse childhood experiences and serious, violent and chronic juvenile offenders"
  • Baglivio 2015 "The relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and juvenile offending trajectories in a juvenile offender sample"

Or it feels a little too specific or has too many factors to make a general case from:

  • Edalati 2017, "Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Risk of Criminal Justice Involvement and Victimization Among Homeless Adults With Mental Illness."
  • Altintas 2018, "Evaluation of childhood trauma with respect to criminal behavior, dissociative experiences, adverse family experiences and psychiatric backgrounds among prison inmates."


So, my questions to the community are: Is there any research out there that compares rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences in the adult justice-involved population to rates in the population at large?


Are any researchers exploring correlations between ACE scores and statistics around criminal behavior such as age at time of first offense, nature of the crimes committed, or recidivism? 

Thanks for your help.




Original Post

Hi Amy! I am presently a student at UW-Wisconsin, interning and collecting data for our local CJCC (Criminal Justice Coordinating Council) on the local jail population ACE scores. We will be exploring any correlation between the ACE and recidivism. Unfortunately I don't have any data to share yet, but we're making baby steps! 

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Angela B FranerRobert RodgersAmanda ChestnutCarey S. Sipp (ACEs Connection Staff)