Predicting Violence Potential Among Commitments to State-Level Juvenile Correctional Institutions

Rudy Haapanen, California Youth Authority
Wes Ingram, California Youth Authority
Elizabeth Cauffman, University of Pittsburgh
Hans Steiner, Stanford University School of Medicine
Selmer Wathney, California Youth Authority

This presentation will focus on the prediction of violent and aggressive behavior in juvenile offenders admitted to the California Youth Authority. The study draws on data collected as part of an NIJ-funded research project designed to validate and refine mental health screening tools for serious juvenile offenders entering incarceration. Since April 1997, the California Youth Authority (CYA) has been using a paper-and-pencil assessment package to obtain information about the mental health status of juvenile offenders entering its state-level institutions. The instruments included in this package are the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI), the Achenbach Child Behavior Checklist Youth Self Report (CBCL-YSR), and Weinberger Adjustment Inventory (WAI) and the Drug Experience Questionnaire (DEQ). none of these instruments was developed on samples of very serious juvenile offenders, and their applicability for the CYA population was uncertain. One of the goals of the NIJ-funded study was to explore combinations of items and scales that might better identify offenders with mental health problems and potential for violence and aggression during institutionalization. This presentation will report on efforts to establish violence risk assessment indices from these assessment instruments in combination with other information available at intake, such as prior criminal history and the results of other assessments.

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Updated 05/20/2006