Risk assessment matters, but only when implemented well: A multisite study in juvenile probation
Department of Psychiatry; Systems and Psychosocial Advances Research Center
Criminology | Juvenile Law | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology
There is a strong movement toward juvenile justice agencies' use of risk assessment and risk-need-responsivity approaches to improve case management decisions for young offenders. However, little is known about whether adoption of risk assessment actually effectuates any changes in the way young offenders are handled. This was a multisite study of the impact on case processing of implementation of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) or Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory in 6 juvenile probation offices using a prepost design and 1,694 propensity score-matched young offenders. Consistent with the risk principle, there were significant changes to at least some areas of case processing in all but 1 site, most notably with respect to decreases in the amount of supervision youth received and in rates of out-of-home placement. The nature and extent of the impact varied as a function of sites' characteristics and implementation quality, not as a function of the risk assessment used. No increases in recidivism were observed in any site, and there was a significant reduction in recidivism in 1 site. The key benefits of implementation of valid risk assessment and case management procedures were improved resource allocation and fewer instances of inappropriate interference in youths' lives without an apparent increased risk to public safety.
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Citation: Law Hum Behav. 2016 Dec;40(6):683-696. Epub 2016 Oct 31. Link to article on publisher's site
Vincent, Gina M.; Guy, Laura; Perrault, Rachael T.; and Gershenson, Bernice, "Risk assessment matters, but only when implemented well: A multisite study in juvenile probation" (2016). University of Massachusetts Medical School Faculty Publications. 1344.