“I Feel like I Have ‘Prison’ Tattooed on my Forehead”: Women’s Trajectories after Release from Incarceration

Although reentry has been well explored, less is known about women’s reentry trajectories and whether reentry experiences change over time. The current study explored women’s experiences from prison release to 15-months post-release using interviews with 29 women across four states. Themes from early reentry (2 weeks–4 months) underscored women’s struggle for survival. Women were dependent on informal support, struggling to readjust to mothering, and experiencing stigma from potential employers. Themes from later reentry (8–15 months) mostly portrayed the complexities of social support as mothering remained challenging, family support became a double-edged sword, and formal support services were difficult to access.

Women & Criminal Justice, 22 DEC 2023






Study protocol paper for the multi‑site feasibility evaluation of mobile and technology‑assisted aftercare services for crisis stabilization units

Pettus, C., Fulmer, R., Pederson, S., & Eikenberry, J.

This study offers decision making and procedural insight into law enforcement use of Crisis Stabilization Units (CSUs) as an alternative to jail. Data-based research provides outcome trends for those who go through standard CSU services compared to those who receive mobile and technology-assisted aftercare services. Understanding the effects of CSU aftercare services on persons may guide policy and national understanding of effective criminal justice diversion for persons with behavioral health disorders.

Pilot and Feasibility Studies. 10.1186/s40814-023-01361-8 





“… he’s going to be facing the same things that he faced prior to being locked up”: perceptions of service needs for substance use disorders”

Beeler, S., Renn, T., & Pettus, C.

High rates of substance use disorders (SUDs) exist among justice-involved populations (i.e., persons incarcerated or recently released). SUD treatment is crucial for justice-involved populations as unmet treatment need increases reincarceration risk and impacts other behavioral health sequalae. A limited understanding of health needs (i.e. health literacy) can be one reason for unmet treatment needs. Social support is critical to seeking SUD treatment and post-incarceration outcomes.

Health & Justice, 11(1), 1-13





Behavioral health literacy: A new construct to improve outcomes among incarcerated residents

Pettus, C., Kennedy, S. C., Renn, T., Tripodi, S. J., Herod, L., Rudes, D., Taxman, F

In the United States, nearly 13 million adults are incarcerated in prisons and jails annually with significant negative public health consequences. Incarcerated individuals have disproportionate rates of behavioral health disorders (BHDs); untreated BHD symptoms bring people into incarceration settings and are associated with re-arrest after release. Although lack of treatment motivation is often used to explain these outcomes, individuals may have limited knowledge about BHDs and their symptoms, when and why treatment is warranted, and how to access treatment during custody and in the community. We propose a new construct called behavioral health literacy to facilitate linkage between individuals with BHDs and appropriate treatment options. In this paper, we define behavioral health literacy, review extant literature, describe why behavioral health literacy is needed, and explore how behavioral health literacy interventions may be developed to expand knowledge and guide policy and practice, ultimately improving both behavioral health outcomes and reduce criminal legal system involvement.

International Journal of Social Welfare, 1-11, 10.1111/ijsw.12624