Mental Health and the Justice System in Durham County (2021-2022)

Mental illness is over-represented in the incarcerated population. Although people with mental illness are not more likely to commit crimes, once involved in the criminal justice system, they tend to be re-arrested more frequently.

Using data from the Durham County Detention Facility and Duke Health, this team examined the interaction of people incarcerated in Durham County with Duke Health, with a particular focus on those with mental illness and substance use disorder. 

Their work showed that individuals with serious mental illness and substance use disorder are most likely to be repeatedly arrested in Durham. They also found that a visit to the Duke Emergency Department is associated with greater likelihood of re-arrest in the near future.

The team also examined the effect of cash bail reform on re-arrest, and found that the policy to reduce the use of secured bonds did not affect re-arrest rates, but that other factors, such as mental illness and substance use disorder, are predictive of re-arrest regardless of this policy.

Learn more about this project team by viewing the team's video.


Fall 2021 – Spring 2022

Team Outputs

Mental Health and the Justice System in Durham County (presentation by Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Community-Engaged Scholarship Symposium, May 2022)

Examining Risk Factors for Repeat Arrests in Durham (2022 Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Virtual Showcase)

Mental Health and the Justice System in Durham County: Interactions with Duke Health and The Impact of Cash Bail Reform (poster by Brianna Cellini, William Feng, Luong Huynh, Isabella Larsen, Maya Pandey, Matthew Ralph, Becky Tang, Maria Tackett and Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, presented at Fortin Foundation Bass Connections Showcase, Duke University, April 13, 2022)

Nicole L. Schramm-Sapyta, Matthew Ralph, Luong Huynh, Becky Tang, Maria Tackett, Michele Easter, Isabella Larsen. 2023. Relationships Between Substance Use Disorders, ‘Severe Mental Illness’ and Re-Arrest in a County Detention Facility: A 4-Year Follow-Up Cohort StudyCriminal Behavior and Mental Health.

This Team in the News

Research Methods and Creative Outputs from Interdisciplinary Teams

Postcards from the Practice: Students Reflect on Their Summer Jobs

Food Insecurity, Gerrymandering and Museums: Data+ Summer Research Program Combines Data Science with Social Impact


See related teams, Mental Health and the Justice System in Durham County (2022-2023) and Mental Health and the Justice System in Durham County (2020-2021), and Data+ summer project, Mental Health and the Justice System in Durham County (2022).


Image: Durham County Justice Center in Durham, NC, by Alexisrael, licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Durham County Justice Center in Durham, NC.

Team Leaders

  • Nicole Schramm-Sapyta, Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
  • Maria Tackett, Arts & Sciences-Statistical Science
  • Becky Tang, Arts and Sciences-Statistical Science-Ph.D.Student

/graduate Team Members

  • Oluwabamise Onabanjo, Master of Laws

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Brianna Cellini, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Kexin Feng, Philosophy (AB)
  • Luong Huynh, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Isabella Larsen, Psychology (AB)
  • John Liakos, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Maya Pandey, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Matthew Ralph, Statistical Science (BS)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Michele Easter, School of Medicine-Psychiatry: Social and Community Psychiatry

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Stepping Up Initiative
  • Justice Services Department
  • Durham County Detention Facility
  • Durham Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)