Predictors of Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified Scores in Outpatients with Legal System Involvement

Luca Pauselli, Adria Zern, Oluwatoyin Ashekun, Samantha Ellis, Elisabeth Jackson, Leah G. Pope, Amy C. Watson, Jennifer D. Wood, Michael T. Compton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified (CSS-M) has been widely used as a measure of criminal attitudes. This analysis examined CSS-M scores in a large sample of outpatients with serious mental illnesses and a criminal legal system history. We compared total and subscale scores in our sample to scores from two other previously published U.S. studies in which the CSS-M was used, and evaluated associations between total CSS-M score and nine variables (age, educational attainment, gender, race, marital status, employment status, diagnostic category, substance use disorder comorbidity, and adverse childhood experiences (ACE) score). Scores were higher than in two prior U.S. studies involving other types of samples. Independently significant predictors of higher CSS-M scores included being younger (P < .001), having a higher ACE score (P < .001), being male (P 5 .03), not identifying as White (P <.001), not having a psychotic disorder (P <.001), and having a comorbid substance use disorder (P 5.002). Future research should test the hypothesis that these factors increase risk for arrest and that arrest events, and subsequent criminal legal system involvement, are characterized by negative experiences and perceptions of poor procedural justice, which in turn underpin the negative opinions referred to as “criminal sentiments” or criminal attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)176-185
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2024


  • criminal justice
  • criminal legal system
  • criminal sentiments
  • law enforcement
  • police
  • serious mental illnesses


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