Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Brent Teasdale

Second Advisor

Dr. Timothy Brezina

Third Advisor

Dr. Eric Wright


The objective of this study is to evaluate why some individuals with mental illness are more inclined to violently recidivate. There appears to be two perspectives that may explain recidivism: one that emphasizes situational factors and one that emphasizes dispositional factors. Situational factors are those that are constantly changing within one’s life, whereas dispositional factors are those that remain relatively stable over time. Therefore, dispositional factors would theoretically put individuals with mental illness at stable risk for recidivism because these factors remain relatively stable over time. In fact, perhaps individuals with mental illness repeatedly engage in violence because they have a dispositional trait (like low self-control, for example) that puts them at stable risk for recidivism. Conversely, situational factors would theoretically explain why individuals do not engage in recidivism because they are transient and constantly changing. Therefore, perhaps one desists from violence because some situational factor changed in that individual’s life. Using data from the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment study (i.e. MacRisk), a longitudinal study of people with serious mental illness, violent recidivism will be evaluated across waves. Specifically, the objective is to determine if situational or dispositional factors influence violent recidivism.