Sociology Ph.D. Dissertations


The Influence Of Young Adults' And Their Romantic Partners' Criminal Justice History On Relationship Uncertainty, Intimate Partner Violence and Depression

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Monica Longmore (Advisor)

Second Advisor

Mariana Mereoiu (Other)

Third Advisor

Stephen Demuth (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Peggy Giordano (Committee Member)

Fifth Advisor

Wendy Manning (Committee Member)


Although prior research has looked at the role of intimate relationships and desistance from crime, fewer have considered how involvement in the criminal justice system affect high-quality intimate relationships. Formal contact with the criminal justice system (i.e., arrest or incarceration) is occurring at younger ages, often before emerging adulthood, when serious intimate relationships and family formation occurs. Events such as arrest or incarceration arguably disrupt efforts to acquire and sustain quality intimate relationships. Research that has examined such associations has focused solely on incarceration or the history of one partner. With increased female policing, and over policing of racial/ethnic minority communities, the need to consider all possible forms of criminal justice contact, and experiences of both partners in a relationship are critical for understanding how criminal justice contact affects relationship quality. This dissertation examined how criminal justice histories of either partner was associated with: (1) relationship uncertainty, (2) intimate partner violence, and (3) depression. Using longitudinal data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study (TARS) (n = 1,021) is ideally suited to consider criminal justice histories of both partners, and the multitude of individual, partner and relationship characteristics intertwined with these outcomes. Results from ordinary least squared (OLS) regression models indicated baseline support for nearly all associations and revealed the importance of considering separate indicators for respondents and their partners for outcomes of relationship uncertainty, intimate partner violence and depression. In final models, effects often were mitigated with the inclusion of relationship dynamics. Findings demonstrate the importance of considering ongoing criminality of both partners as well; however, the strong associations with the outcomes of intimate partner violence and depression could not fully recede. Variation on findings existed when examining race/ethnicity and gender differences. White respondents with a criminal justice history reported decreased depressive symptoms. Women, but not men whose partners had a criminal justice history was associated with increased relationship uncertainty, and only when both partners had this history were there increases in self-reported intimate partner violence. Results have highlighted the importance of criminal justice histories ranging from arrest to incarceration, and including experiences of both partners when examining relationship outcomes.