Using the MAYSI-2 to Identify Mental Disorder Among Latino Juvenile Offenders

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Many juvenile justice agencies have adopted the Massachusetts Youth Screening Inventory–Version 2 (MAYSI-2; Grisso & Barnum, 2006) to facilitate appropriate programming for young offenders with mental illness. Although Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the criminal justice system, there is scant research on the utility of the MAYSI-2 among Latino adolescents. The present study examined the utility of the MAYSI-2 in detecting diagnosable mental illness among 398 Latino and 60 European American adolescents in a juvenile justice agency. In addition to testing the scoring configuration used by the agency to identify adolescents in need of further attention, we tested 2 additional scoring configurations of the MAYSI-2. We found that the MAYSI-2 had similar utility at identifying serious mood and anxiety disorders for both ethnic groups, but was less sensitive to behavioral and substance use disorders among Latinos than it was among European Americans. In addition, the MAYSI-2 overall was less sensitive to mental illness among Latino boys compared with Latina girls. We discuss these findings within the context of best practices for identifying adolescents with mental illness in juvenile justice agencies.

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