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Mass incarceration - a system of social and racial control that affects those with criminal legal (CL) contact and entire communities where it is concentrated - is a public health crisis. Incarceration worsens mental health (MH) and contributes to MH disparities across the life course given incarceration’s disproportionate impact on Black, low-income, and rural communities. Incarceration also has individual and community MH effects. Recognizing the negative health effects of incarceration, probation has been lauded as an alternative. In fact, 2.9 million individuals in the United States (US) are on probation, far more than the number incarcerated. Yet, it remains unclear what the effect of probation is on health, including MH. Because probation is so common and seen as an alternative to incarceration, it is essential to know if the deleterious effects of probation mirror those of incarceration. The objectives of this proposal are to (1) characterize longitudinal patterns of CL involvement from adolescence to mid-30s by race, (2) evaluate the relationship between probation and MH and racial disparities in this relationship, and (3) evaluate temporal and geographic trends in the relationship between probation, race, and MH at the county level. For the first two objectives, to assess individual effects, The National Longitudinal Study of Youth97 will be used, which is a longitudinal, nationally representative data set of adolescents born from 1980-1984 with data from adolescence through mid-30s. For the third objective, to assess community effects, North Carolina administrative data on probation, self-inflicted injury, and suicide will be used. The completion of the proposed aims will significantly advance our understanding of the relationship between CL involvement and health and has the potential to inform probation policies, provide valuable insights on probation’s community-wide effects, and inform interventions to improve MH among this often-forgotten population.

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