Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Kroner, Daryl


The disproportionate amount of mentally ill offenders in the United States’ prison system and the lack of correctional treatment they receive have been an under-addressed problems for decades. This goal of this study was to examine the various individual and institutional barriers that hinder mentally ill offenders from accessing and participating in mental health treatment services. These barriers are analyzed using an expectancy theory framework. Specifically, the factors are fit into the Valence – Instrumentality – Expectancy model in an attempt to predict the impact that these barriers have on the number of mental health contact hours the offender engages in. Data for this analysis was obtained from 165 offenders with mental illness incarcerated in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Results indicate that offenders who experience fewer individual barriers (stigma and skepticism) and institutional barriers (quality of provider) are more likely to engage in more mental health services hours. Further, expectancy variables were expected to have the strongest impact on service engagement, but this hypothesis was not supported. Instead, valence variables had the strongest impact. But, the expectancy theory model with all components included is significant and useful to examine correctional mental health treatment utilization. This study is the first to apply expectancy theory to correctional mental health, and illuminates areas of policy improvements in this area.




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