Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Social Work

Major Professor

William Rowe, D.S.W.

Co-Major Professor

Annette Christy, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lisa Rapp-McCall, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Anne Strozier, Ph.D.

Committee Member

David Kershaw, Ph.D.


crime, mental illness, peers, PTSD, risk-needs-responsivity, veterans


This mixed methods study evaluated clinical and criminal justice outcomes of the Florida Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery (JDTR) program that utilized compensated veteran peer mentors. Quantitative results showed veteran participation in JDTR improved clinical outcomes, such as PTSD symptoms, function difficulty and depression scores, but not criminal justice outcomes such as re-arrest rates. Study limitations, however, prevent the drawing of conclusions regarding the potential effectiveness of veteran peer interventions improving criminal justice outcomes. Qualitative results showed participants overwhelmingly viewed their assigned veteran peer mentor as a "peer" and rated them as "very important" to their future success. Improvements in avoidance and numbing and depression symptoms also suggest peer interventions may be effective in improving responsivity to evidence-based criminal justice interventions. Overall, findings were consistent with the RNR model that views mental illness as a responsivity factor, not a criminogenic need. They were also consistent with research on "first generation" forensic mental health interventions that shows improvements in clinical outcomes do not result in reductions in recidivism. Social workers as well as other mental health clinicians and policy makers should be familiar with evidenced-based criminal justice strategies, such as RNR, that focus on reducing recidivism and should incorporate these strategies into the development, implementation and evaluation of "second generation" interventions. Future research should evaluate the fidelity of implementation of such interventions as well as the role of peer mentors and importance of the recovery model and therapeutic alliance in improving criminal justice outcomes and responsivity.

Included in

Social Work Commons