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Juvenile Sex Offenders and Institutional Misconduct: The Role of Thought Psychopathology

NCJ Number
Criminal Behaviour and Mental Health Volume: 18 Issue: 5 Dated: 2008 Pages: 292-305
Matt DeLisi; Michael G. Vaughn; Kevin M. Beaver; John Paul Wright; Andy Hochstetler; Anna E. Kosloski; Alan J. Drury
Date Published
14 pages
To better understand the institutional behavior of incarcerated sex offenders, this study investigated the relationships between juvenile sex offending, thought psychopathology, and institutional misconduct.
The analyses indicate that juvenile sex offending is not only a severe form of delinquency, but is also a robust predictor of continued antisocial behavior in youth offender institutions. Detainees with prior arrest histories for rape, molestation, and analogous sexual violations were significantly more likely to engage in sexual misconduct, generalized misconduct, and total misconduct. Juvenile sex offending was associated with six forms of institutional misconduct over 12 and 24 months prior to rating. Interventions to help incarcerated young offenders are likely to be particularly important for those with a sex offending history since they are likely to persist with antisocial behaviors of all kinds within and beyond the institution. A recurrent theme in the juvenile sex offender literature centers on the role of psychiatric disturbance specifically related to thought psychopathology. Psychopathology is broadly defined as impairment in thinking and perception, which contributes to a distorted view of reality. This study sought to further the understanding of sex offenders using data from institutionalized delinquents committed to the California Youth Authority (CYA). The study has four goals: (1) to explore the relationship between adolescent sex offending and institutional misconduct; (2) to examine these relationships for diverse types of institutional misconduct; (3) to assess the role of thought psychopathology in the study of juvenile sex offending; and (4) to examine whether thought psychopathology mediated the independence effects of sex offending on institutional behavior. Figure, tables, and references