Use of Structured Professional Judgment by Probation Officers to Assess Risk for Recidivism in Adolescent Offenders

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Abstract

The current study tested a method of risk assessment for adolescent offenders that relies on structured professional judgment: the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk for Youth (SAVRY; Borum, Bartel, & Forth, 2006). Trained probation officers in 3 jurisdictions administered the SAVRY to 505 adjudicated adolescents (M age = 15.43 years, SD = 1.62). The results supported the validity of the SAVRY administered in this juvenile justice context. Specifically, scores from the SAVRY differentiated violent from nonviolent offenders and predicted both violent and nonviolent recidivism over a 12-month follow-up period. Violent offenders showed more historical and individual risk factors than nonviolent offenders, and violent sex offenders were rated as more deficient in empathy and remorse. The anger control item was a particularly important indicator of risk for reoffending in the violent offender group. The implications of these findings for weighting risk factors in individual cases when using structured professional judgment are discussed.

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