Safety Fair Promotes Health, Wellness, & Crime Prevention

A growing body of research shows that having a criminal record makes it harder to find a job and increases the likelihood of relying on public assistance (see e.g., Dobbie et al. 2018, Mueller-Smith 2015). Those factors — coupled with the high cost of keeping people behind bars — have called into question the cost-effectiveness of today’s criminal justice system.
My research offers policymakers a consideration for reducing criminal justice costs while also better serving already vulnerable groups of Americans: increasing access to mental health services.
Measuring the effectiveness of mental health care access has proved difficult because of the lack of data shared and linked between health and law enforcement agencies in the United States. But using administrative data from South Carolina that has been linked across various government agencies, I am able to show that men with a history of mental illness are more likely to be incarcerated after losing access to health care (Jácome 2020)