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Does Intra-Individual Change Predict Offender Recidivism?: Searching for the Holy Grail in Assessing Offender Change

NCJ Number
Aggression and Violent Behavior Volume: 18 Issue: 1 Dated: January/February 2013 Pages: 32-53
Date Published
February 2013
22 pages

Although this literature review examined all studies that measured change within offenders, it focused on measures of change that have been empirically tested for association with future offending, so as to examine whether change scores are inversely related to recidivism.


The study's scope was further narrowed to explore three domains most often targeted in offender treatment: cognition, violence, and substance abuse. Across all three of these domains, clear support was found for intra-individual changes in antisocial attitudes, antisocial beliefs, antisocial personality pattern (hostility and impulsivity), social support, and substance misuse as predictors of recidivism, with effect sizes ranging from small to large. This review thus supports a conceptualization of the three domains as both core risk factors and important dynamic targets for change. The review divided the offender change literature by treatment domain rather than treatment model. The authors theorize that different treatment approaches have differential potential to impact offender change. In order to confirm this, further research on varied treatment approaches must be conducted. The authors minimally recommend including an assessment of antisocial attitudes and beliefs in research and correctional practice, and they strongly encourage the use of multiple assessments over time. Studies were selected for evaluation if they sampled offenders identified by one of the specified domains and if they assessed variables at a minimum of two time periods. The studies included in the review further linked participant change to recidivism data. 5 tables and 118 references

Date Published: February 1, 2013