Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment : Theory, Research, Policy, and Practice book cover
1st Edition

Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment
Theory, Research, Policy, and Practice

ISBN 9780367422776
Published November 5, 2021 by Routledge
218 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book takes a comprehensive, analytic approach to understanding Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment (JRNA), covering elements relevant to how the practice affects youths’ cases and the juvenile justice system. The work draws on both analysis of the extensive research on risk and needs assessment in the juvenile justice system as well as data from the authors’ recent work in the area.

Authors Sullivan and Childs have extensive experience in teaching about and doing research on the juvenile justice system, including multiple studies on juvenile risk and needs assessment tools and their implementation. This expansive, integrative book leaves readers with a realistic sense of "where things stand" on the theory, research, policy, and practice of JRNA. By bringing together existing ideas and assessing them in depth, it identifies possible future paths and sparks ideas for improving the juvenile justice response to delinquent and at-risk youths.

Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment is essential reading for scholars of juvenile justice system impact and reform as well as practitioners engaged in youth and juvenile justice work ranging from the preventive to the rehabilitative stages.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Risk and Needs Assessment and Effective Juvenile Justice Practice

The Scope of JRNA

Reaching Conclusions

Understudied Aspects of Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment

A Settled Research Area?

Labels, Judgment, and Assessment of Youths

Research, Technology, and Fairness in JRNA Usage

A More Complete Consideration of JRNA

Chapter 2: Contemporary Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment

JRNA Terminology

A Brief History of JRNA

Generations of Criminogenic Risk and Need Assessment Instruments

JRNA Process

The Various Functions of JRNA

Case Decisions and Performance

Agency Decisions and Optimal Performance

Studies of JRNA Performance

JRNA Validity Across Youth Subgroups

Summary of JRNA Predictive Validity Studies

The Limitations of JRNA Research

Chapter Summary

Chapter 3: Logic and Use of JRNA

Risk, Needs, and Responsivity

JRNA Logic Model





External Factors Influencing the Use of JRNA

Chapter Summary

Chapter 4: Implementation and Practice of Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment

The Implementation Environment Surrounding JRNA

Outer Implementation Context: Public Infrastructure and JRNA Implementation

Inner Implementation Context: Agency and Staff Characteristics

Implementation Frameworks and JRNA

Variability in JRNA Implementation

JRNA as An Innovation

Key Implementation Components and JRNA

Considering Context and Assessing Readiness for Change

Selecting Appropriate Tools

Rollout Processes, Staff Buy-In, and JRNA

Impact of Staff Attitudes and Buy-In

Staff Experience and Skills

Promoting User Confidence and Efficacy

Training and Engagement with Key Personnel

Sustainability, Quality Assurance, and Continued Improvement

Key Lessons and Challenges of JRNA Implementation and Use

Chapter Summary

Chapter 5: Doing Justice and Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment

Political and Legal Framework for Use of JRNA

Potential Causes for Concern

Labeling and Locating Risk

Balancing Risks with Strengths

Race and Ethnic Disparities

Gender Disparities

Development, Change, and Dynamic Assessment

Resources, Placements, and Level of Control

Chapter Summary

Chapter 6: Returning to Underlying Theory and Principles

Theoretical Origins and Foundations

Clinical and Statistical Judgment

Risk, Needs, and Responsivity (RNR) Framework

Measurement and Methodology

Data and Measurement in JRNA Research

JRNA and Decision-Making

Decision Theory

Focal Concerns

Attribution Theory

Heuristics and Biases in Decision-Making

Collaborative Researcher-Practitioner Partnerships


Multiple Sources of Knowledge

Social Action

Chapter Summary

Chapter 7: The Next Generation of Juvenile Risk and Needs Assessment

Summary of Key Conclusions

A Next Generation JRNA Research Agenda

Logic and Theory of JRNA

Studies of Assessments

Studies of Assessment Usage and the Logic Model

Studies of Implementation and Use

Next Generation JRNA Policy

Next Generation JRNA Implementation and Usage

The Future of JRNA: Theory, Research, Policy, and Practice

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Christopher J. Sullivan is Professor and Director of the School of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Texas State University. He received his doctorate from Rutgers University in 2005. His research interests include developmental and life-course criminology; juvenile delinquency and juvenile justice; and research and analytic methods. He has published more than 90 journal articles and book chapters on those and related topics. He is author of Taking Juvenile Justice Seriously: Developmental Insights and System Challenges (Temple University Press, 2019), which was selected as an Outstanding Contribution by the American Society of Criminology’s Division of Developmental and Life Course Criminology in 2020. Dr. Sullivan has been named a 250th Anniversary Fellow at Rutgers University and a Fellow of the Graduate School at the University of Cincinnati for his research and has received award recognition for his mentoring and teaching of graduate students and academic service. He has been data analyst or Principal Investigator (PI) on several federally or state-funded projects in juvenile justice practice and policy. Professor Sullivan has been Co-Editor of the Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency since 2017.

Kristina K. Childs is an Associate Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida. She received her doctoral degree in Criminology from the University of South Florida in 2008. Then, she was a post-doctoral fellow for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change: Systems Reform in Juvenile Justice initiative in Louisiana. Her main research interests include juvenile risk and need assessment practices, evaluation of prevention and intervention programs for at-risk youths, and the effectiveness of mental health and de-escalation training and education for front-line juvenile justice decision-makers. She has published more than 25 academic articles and book chapters on juvenile justice issues. To support her research, she has received over $1 million in external grants from the National Institute of Justice, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance.