An age-old issue: Evaluating the applicability of adult criminal risk assessment tools for use with youth offenders
Research has consistently recognized that youth and adults share risk factors for crime, although whether certain factors are of increased importance during adolescence is debated. The present research evaluated the extent to which two risk assessment tools could predict criminal and breach reconviction in a matched sample of youth (aged 17-19) and adult (aged 20-60) community- supervised offenders: The Dynamic Risk Assessment for Offender Re-entry (DRAOR) and the static Risk of re-Conviction X Risk of re-Imprisonment (RoC*RoI). Cox regression and AUC analyses revealed initial DRAOR scores had mixed predictive validity for both groups, while proximal risk scores showed comparably moderate to high accuracy for youth and adults. Protective scores were consistently poor predictors for adults. The proximal assessment predicted reconviction better than the initial assessment, and decreases in risk scores between assessments were associated with a reduction in the likelihood of reconviction, showing the value in monitoring risk and updating assessment. The RoC*RoI predicted criminal reconviction for adults but did not predict either reconviction outcome for youth. These findings support the use of the DRAOR for identifying which youth and adults are likely to reoffend, and suggest that dynamic factors might be more useful predictors than static for assessing and monitoring youth offenders.