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! 

I currently work in the criminal justice system with adults and am working to develop research related to this area. I've found the same thing-it's either focused on juveniles or is very specific. I can tell you in my experience, every person I with with has at least 1 ACE and the average is 5 (very small sample size and still growing/changing) in the adult system. 


You might be interested in many of the articles written /co-written by Jill S. Levenson. Here's one but there are several. I know she's also co-written a book with Alissa Ackerman on Vicarious Restorative Justice & Sexual Offending which has just been published.

This recent ACEs Too High article might lead to more. 

Also, @Melanie G Snyder has done a great Ted talk and much work in this area as well and might be able to point you to resources. She's one of the community managers of the Lancaster, PA Community. 

Also,   @Treston Kingsbury, you and @Justin Boardman may wish to connect. He's doing some work in the criminal justice system as well as a former, now retired, detective. 


I wrote a book "Lifetrap: From child victim to adult victimizer" in which I take 28 years as a prison psychologist, working with domestic violence offenders and current theories (neurological, attachment etc) of trauma to trace the links between childhood abuse and adult perpetration.


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