Law and Human Behavior Volume: 43 Issue: 5 Dated: 2019 Pages: 477-490
This study challenges calls for the expansion of criminogenic risk assessment throughout the criminal justice system, based on its testing of the implicit assumption that populations in which recidivism risk factors were identified are interchangeable with populations experiencing the onset/duration of exposure to the criminal justice system.
Proponents of criminogenic risk assessment have called for its widespread expansion throughout the criminal justice system. Its success in predicting recidivism is taken as evidence that criminogenic risks tap into the causes of criminal behavior, and that targeting these factors can reduce correctional supervision rates and even prevent crime. The current study tests the hypothesis that exposure to the criminal justice system increases some of the risk factors used to predict recidivism; therefore, risk factors for recidivism and onset/duration of exposure to the criminal justice system are not interchangeable. Secondary analysis was conducted for data from 503 boys followed prior to first arrest through early adulthood. Inverse-probability-of-exposure-weighted marginal structural models and fixed effects models were used to test whether arrests and convictions increased antisocial attitudes, behaviors, and peers. The study found that being arrested or convicted resulted in subsequently higher levels of antisocial attitudes, behaviors, and peers. Risks for recidivism, which include the effect of exposure to the criminal justice system, are not identical to the risks of exposure to the criminal justice system. The author advises that these findings caution against the uncritical expansion of criminogenic risk assessment from community corrections to policing, pretrial, and sentencing. Researchers and policymakers should engage with the social conditions that put people at risk of criminogenic risks and more cautiously communicate the scope of reform that criminogenic risk assessment can deliver. (publisher abstract modified)
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