U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCCD Compares Juvenile Justice Risk Assessment Instruments: A Summary of the OJJDP-Funded Study

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2014
8 pages
This is the summary of a comparative study of eight risk-assessment instruments for juveniles in 10 jurisdictions, with attention to their predictive validity, reliability, equity, and cost.
The two risk instruments for juveniles used in Arizona either did not perform well or used complex formulas that produced moderate results. The risk-assessment instrument used in Arkansas did not perform well. Florida's instrument produced a moderate degree of discrimination, and the instrument used by the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice produced a large number of factors and complex scoring but did not produce better results. Neither of the two instruments used by the Nebraska Office of Probation Administration performed well. The results from Oregon's instrument were difficult to compare with other assessment instruments studied due to low rates of recidivism in Oregon. The instrument used by the Solano County Probation Department (California) proved to be an effective classification instrument. Instruments for girls and boys work well across major racial and ethnic groups. The assessment instrument used by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice worked well overall, but was better for boys than for girls. In drawing implications for practice, the study concludes that the power of some risk-assessment instruments to produce accurate classifications of juvenile offenders may have been overestimated. The first step in remedying this condition is to ensure that those working in the Juvenile justice field understand the importance of ensuring that the instruments being used have been properly assessed for validity, reliability, and equitable risk and needs information. 1 table and 6 references