Date of Award

Spring 5-21-2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department/Program

Forensic Psychology

Language

English

First Advisor

Casey LaDuke

Second Reader

Peggilee Wupperman

Third Advisor

Erin Williams

Abstract

Many offenders demonstrate substance use and neurocognitive impairments. Substance use directly impacts executive functioning due to poor impulse control, leading to impaired decision- making. Substance use and neurocognitive deficits also contribute to recidivism. Incarcerated individuals with substance use disorder have higher rates of recidivism, and executive dysfunction has been shown to contribute to recidivism due to low behavioral inhibition skills and deficiency with cognitive flexibility. There is a discontinuity in literature, however, since many studies only investigate either substance use or neurocognitive deficits to predict recidivism. However, it is important to examine the interaction of these factors to predict future criminal behavior. This archival study investigated substance use and neurocognitive functioning on 95 incarcerated individuals to analyze whether recidivism could be predicted. Surprisingly, no significant relationships were found in the current study. It is possible that limitations related to the sample, methods, and statistical validity resulted in these unexpected results. However, the strong theoretical foundation of this study demonstrated that more research should investigate the relationships among substance use, neurocognitive functioning, and criminal recidivism to inform clinical practice and policymaking with those involved in the criminal justice system.

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