Mack Center on Mental Health and Social Conflict

The Mack Center is a subdivision of the Berkeley Risk-Resilience lab that examines how individual and structural factors influence peoples’ risk of violence and other criminal behavior—and the viability and effectiveness of policy solutions. People at risk are disproportionately poor and members of ethnic minority groups. Many have experienced victimization and “routine” forms of childhood adversity. Virtually all are exposed to hotly debated forms of social control shaped by shifting political, cultural, and legal forces. Historically, these forces shaped the war on drugs and crime. Now, they are shaping the black lives matter movement, justice reform efforts, and “evidence-based practice” paradigms. 

Our current Mack Center projects are designed to:

  • Promote effective and equitable justice reform efforts. Across the US, risk assessment instruments are being used to scaffold a variety of efforts to unwind mass incarceration without compromising public safety.  Our work examines whether the use of these instruments to inform sanctioning will increase, decrease, or have no effect on longstanding racial disparities in incarceration.
  • Identify leverage points for early intervention with at-risk youth.  We are exploring the exciting possibility that the transition from childhood to adolescence provides a natural inflection point for promoting prosocial values, motivation, and identity among at-risk youth.  Well-aimed, well-timed “nudges” during this period could translate to large shifts in youths’ trajectories of behavior, health, and social inclusion.

The Center is supported by: