Critical evaluation of the long-term validity of the risk/need assessment and its young offender typology
Master of Arts
SubjectIndian youth Psychological testing Ontario
Juvenile probation Ontario
Juvenile delinquents Psychological testing Ontario
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Risk and need assessments have become an essential part of managing juvenile offenders by determining each individual’s likelihood to recidivate. At the present time, juvenile delinquents in Ontario are assessed by the Ministry of Community and Social Service’s Risk/Need Assessment. This instrument was developed and normed in Southern Ontario, yet, applied to Northern Ontario which is unique in its overrepresentation of Native young offenders. The short-term validity of the Risk/Need Assessment was previously evaluated through an examination of 250 young offender’s criminal records to determine if they had re-offended within six months following their assessment (Jung, 1996). Analysis revealed that the Risk/Need was robust to ethnicity, gender and criminal status in its prediction of recidivism. This present study examined 195 of these youth to determine if the Risk/Need Assessment could predict recidivism for a longer term, by evaluating their criminal records two years post assessment. All eight of the Risk/Need factors were found to predict overall recidivism for the young offenders, regardless of gender and ethnicity, and certain offence types. Higher rates of recidivism were found to be associated with high scores on the prior and current offences/disposition factor, high scores on the education/employment factor and low scores on the substance abuse scale. Further, all eight Risk/Need factors were able to differentiate between low risk, moderate risk and high risk offenders. These findings support the contention that the Risk/Need Assessment can adequately identify the level of risk of recidivism for young offenders. The conclusion can be drawn, therefore, that the Risk/Need Assessment Form can predict recidivism over a two year period and is robust to gender and ethnicity. The implications of these findings are elaborated upon.