Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) in an Adult Offender Population: Making the Case for Trauma-informed Tr

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Capstone Project

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Graduate School of Professional Psychology

First Advisor

Lavita Nadkarni

Second Advisor

Ragnar Storaasli

Third Advisor

Elizabeth Sather


Offender Population, Trauma, Recidivism, Forensic Treatment, Trauma, Recidivism, Forensic Treatment


This study examined the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences (ACE) in the adult offender population and the relationship between these adverse childhood experiences and risk factors for recidivism, including homelessness, animal cruelty, and substance abuse. The sample consisted of a random sample of 130 offenders receiving outpatient therapy services as a condition of their supervision through a private treatment company in Denver, Colorado. Participants in the study were predominantly White, Latino/a, or Black/African-American and were primarily between the ages of 18 and 60. Results showed that the majority of the participants (83%) reported experiencing at least one category of adverse childhood experiences, 37% reported ≥ four experiences, and 7% reported ≥ eight experiences. There was a positive correlation between Total ACE Score and number of criminal convictions (r = .271, p < .01), and the ACE Score was found to be higher for individuals who endorsed a history of substance abuse, homelessness, witnessing and perpetrating animal abuse. These findings provide support for the need to incorporate trauma-focused interventions into the forensic mental health treatment. Furthermore, the results have implications for the interpretation and implementation of the principles identified in the Risk-Need-Responsivity model; a widely accepted model for forensic treatment.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. Permanently suppressed.


32 pages

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