New Release: Forensic Evaluation and Treatment of Juveniles

SalekinThe American Psychological Association has recently released a new book by Randy Salekin that examines relevant issues in the forensic evaluation and treatment of juveniles.

Forensic Evaluation and Treatment of Juveniles: Innovation and Best Practice

Psychologists have always played a key role in determining how the juvenile justice system assesses and treats young offenders. Recent neuropsychological findings shows that there are important developmental differences between juvenile offenders, such as varying levels of maturity, risk potential, and amenability to treatment, not to mention individualized personality traits and possible mental disorders. Psychologists must therefore strive for targeted rehabilitation services to avoid unfair treatment and redirect youth to healthier life choices.

This book is a practical guide that will help psychologists answer important psycho-legal questions to properly assess and treat juvenile offenders. These guidelines primarily focus on disposition evaluations, which describe adolescent offenders and paths to rehabilitation, and transfer evaluations, which determine whether juveniles should be moved to adult courts. Psychological assessments can greatly influence a judge’s decision, so this book will help forensic clinicians consider important external factors, such as local laws and the political climate, and present assessment data to judges in a thorough, understandable manner.

This book will also be valuable for attorneys, judges, criminologists, and legal scholars who want to understand the psychological science behind juvenile assessment. 2015. Hardcover.

About the Author

Randy Salekin, PhD, is a professor and Director of the Disruptive Behavior Clinic (DBC) at the University of Alabama. He also serves as the Associate Director of the Center for the Prevention on Youth Behavior Problems. Dr. Salekin is an expert in the assessment and treatment of young people with disruptive behavior disorders who are referred from the community or the juvenile court. He provides assessment, treatment, and general consultation recommendations. Dr. Salekin is the author of the RSTI, one of the primary measures for assessing youth who have come into contact with the law. His research focuses on understanding of the causes and correlates of disruptive behavior in children including youth with interpersonal callousness (Limited Prosocial Emotion). In addition, his research and practice focus on the treatment of conduct problem young people with callous unemotional traits. Dr. Salekin’s assessment and treatment efforts have been found to be both innovative and effective for youth with Oppositional Defiant Disorders, Conduct Disorders, and Limited Prosocial Emotion. Dr. Salekin is the author of numerous research publications, the Handbook of Child and Adolescent Psychopathy, and has received both national and international recognition for his work.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Legal Contexts and More
Chapter 2. Juvenile Characteristics, Political and Social Climate, and Transfer Chapter 3. Forensic Mental Health Concepts
Chapter 4. Empirical Foundations and Limits of Juvenile Forensic Evaluation Chapter 5. Preparation for the Evaluation and Forensic Practice
Chapter 6. Data Collection for Juvenile Evaluations
Chapter 7. Interpretation for Juvenile Evaluations
Chapter 8. Report Writing and Testimony
Chapter 9. Treatment of Young People in the Juvenile Justice System Chapter 10. Conclusion and Future Directions

FREE Access to Articles on Children’s Mental Health Now Available

ChildrensMentalHealth_540x185Routledge Journals has made available FREE ACCESS to a collection of articles on Children’s Mental Health. These articles can be viewed and download for FREE until 30th June 2015.

Separate Housing for Adult Court Youth an Unfounded Concern

lhbThe concern regarding separate housing for adult court and juvenile court youth appears unfounded; no differences were found between the two groups in terms of victimization or offending. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in Law and Human Behavior. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

Featured Article | Law and Human Behavior | 2014, Vol. 38, No. 2, 126-138

Tried as an Adult, Housed as a Juvenile: A Tale of Youth From Two Courts Incarcerated Together

Authors

Jordan Bechtold University of California, Irvine
Elizabeth Cauffman University of California, Irvine

Abstract

Research has questioned the wisdom of housing juveniles who are convicted in criminal court in facilities with adult offenders. It is argued that minors transferred to criminal court should not be incarcerated with adults, due to a greater likelihood of developing criminal skills, being victimized, and attempting suicide. Alternatively, it has been suggested that the other option, housing these youth with minors who have committed less serious crimes and who are therefore adjudicated in juvenile courts, might have unintended consequences for juvenile court youth. The present study utilizes a sample of youth incarcerated in one secure juvenile facility, with some offenders processed in juvenile court (n = 261) and others processed in adult court (n = 103). We investigate whether youth transferred to adult court engage in more institutional offending (in particular, violence) and experience less victimization than their juvenile court counterparts. Results indicate that although adult court youth had a greater likelihood of being convicted of violent commitment offenses than juvenile court youth, the former engaged in less offending during incarceration than the latter. In addition, no significant differences in victimization were observed. These findings suggest that the concern about the need for separate housing for adult court youth is unfounded; when incarcerated together, those tried in adult court do not engage in more institutional violence than juvenile court youth.

Keywords

transfer to adult court, institutional behavior, juvenile court, juvenile offenders

Summary of the Research

Much debate in juvenile justice centers around whether it is most appropriate to house criminal court juvenile offenders with adult offenders or with juvenile offenders. Criminal court (adult court) juvenile offenders are tried as adults because of the seriousness of their crime, not the age at which they committed the crime. On one hand, housing criminal court youth offenders with adult offenders raises safety concerns should these youth experience greater rates of victimization or become more likely to commit suicide. Another concern raised is the influence of other adult offenders in turning youth offenders into mature, sophisticated criminals. On the other hand, housing these individuals with juvenile court youth might increase institutional violence in these juvenile facilities, although there is little empirical evidence that housing adult court and juvenile court offenders together increases violence in juvenile facilities.

The goal of this study was to provide empirical data regarding this concern to assist in determining where adult court youth should serve their time. Violent and nonviolent institutional behavior and victimization experiences in a juvenile facility were examined and compared for juvenile offenders processed in criminal court and those processed in the juvenile court system. Participants were 364 male juvenile offenders between the ages of 14 and 17 years who had committed a crime against another person (e.g., robbery, aggravated assault, attempted murder, sexual assault, and murder). The sample was divided into 261 juvenile court youth and 103 adult court youth and was ethnically diverse and representative of youth incarcerated in Southern California. Each participant completed six interviews over the course of their first two months of incarceration and data were collected regarding prior and institutional offending. In addition, frequency of experienced victimization was assessed with The Exposure to Violence Inventory. Institutional reports of victimization were not obtained, one of the study’s limitations.

Background Variables

No differences were found with respect to age, ethnicity, or proportion of time in the facility. Black youth had a higher chance of being transferred to adult court than White youth; however, when total prior arrests and violent offending were considered, these differences became non-significant… “In fact, White youth had more prior arrests than Black youth”(pp. 131-132).

Commitment offense

“Adult court minors were more likely to have a violent commitment offense than juvenile court youth and more likely to be a first time offender. 96.1% of adult court youth were convicted of a violent offense as their commitment offense compared with only 59.4% of juvenile court youth. The odds of being convicted of a violent offense were 16.9 times higher for adult court youth than juvenile court offenders.” (pp. 132)

Prior offending

According to official records, “youth tried in adult court were more likely to be first time offenders than juvenile court youth.” Self-reports of lifetime violent offending did not reveal any differences between adult court and juvenile court youth.

Do Adult Court Youth Engage in More Institutional Offending Than Youth From Juvenile Court?

“No analysis (nonviolent or violent; facility-report or self-report) indicated that adult court youth exhibit more offending than juvenile court youth. In fact, according to facility reports, juvenile court youth commit more violent and nonviolent offenses than do adult court youth.” (pp. 132)

Do Juvenile Court and Adult Court Youth Experience Similar Amounts of Victimization While Incarcerated Together?

“Results indicated no differences in victimization between juvenile court and adult court youth. Although a few youth were victimized as many as 13 times, on average, youth in the facility reported being victimized about one time (M = 0.63, SD = 1.53) during the first 2 months of incarceration ” (p. 132). There were no differences between juvenile court and adult court youth in victimization experiences during the study period.

Translating Research into Practice

This study found that even though adult court youth offenders were more likely to commit serious offenses, there was “no evidence that these youth engage in more violent or nonviolent institutional offending than youth processed in juvenile court”. It was actually juvenile court youth who “not only engaged in more institutional offending but also had more prior arrests and self-reported a more extensive history of offending than the adult court youth.” The strength of these findings is that they were consistent “across multiple data sources (facility-report and self-report; violent and nonviolent offenses” (pp. 133-135).

The study also found that there was a low likelihood for adult court youth to reoffend. Surprisingly, it was adult court youth who were more likely to be first time offenders than juvenile court offenders. This is in line with previous research indicating first time offenders are less likely to reoffend when compared to chronic offenders.

The study authors found it “especially encouraging” that the data indicate that adult court youth “do not engage in particularly high levels of offending when confined with other juvenile offenders” (pp. 134).

Taken together, the results of this study suggest that the hypothesized negative outcomes of housing adult court youth in a facility with juvenile court youth may warrant reconsideration. Adult court youth did not engage in more violent or nonviolent offending than juvenile court youth and there were no differences between the two groups in terms of victimization experiences. The study authors contrast their results with those from research regarding housing adult court juvenile offenders with other adults in which poorer outcomes (e.g., higher rates of recidivism) are found for juvenile offenders juveniles housed with adult offenders. In addition, juvenile facilities offer developmentally appropriate settings that promote educational objectives.

“Maintaining and encouraging academic goals—especially while incarcerated—is developmentally critical, as research indicates that education is a strong predictor of abstaining and desisting from delinquency and antisocial behavior. Juvenile facilities are, by design, more prepared to handle the educational needs of young offenders than adult facilities.” (pp. 135)

In addition, “Researchers found that when adolescents perceived a high degree of community reentry planning and/or services (e.g., mental health) during secure placement, the adolescent was less likely to recidivate over the subsequent year after release” (p. 135)

In summary, the researchers of the present study suggest that, “decision makers may want to consider the possibility of housing adult court youth in juvenile facilities (ideally on a case-by-case basis)” (p. 135).

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

Future research could focus on comparing adult court youth housed in adult facilities to adult court youth housed in juvenile facilities. The present study only focused on the latter. Analyzing who is victimizing whom could also give researchers a better idea of the conditions in youth facilities.

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Special Contributor

GaliciaBetsy-pictureContributions to this post were made by Betsy Galicia.

Betsy E. Galicia is a graduate student born and raised in Houston, Texas pursuing her MA in Forensic Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She is interested in cultural differences in forensic assessments and cultural competency. She plans to write a thesis on these topics and go on to earn a doctoral degree. Other interests include traveling and exploring the world, going to parks, riding her bike, and re-reading The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Sexual Abuse a Salient Predictor of Recidivism for Juvenile Females, Not Males

lhbA history of sexual abuse was a salient predictor of recidivism for young female offenders, but not for young male offenders. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in Law and Human Behavior. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

Featured Article| Law and Human Behavior | 2014, Vol. 38, No. 4, 305-314

Gender Differences in Recidivism Rates for Juvenile Justice Youth: The Impact of Sexual Abuse

Authors

Selby M. Conrad, The Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island and Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, Providence, Rhode Island
Marina Tolou-Shams, Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, Providence, Rhode Island and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Christie J. Rizzo, Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, Providence, Rhode Island and The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Nicole Placella, Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island
Larry K. Brown, Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center, Providence, Rhode Island and The Warren Alpert Medical School of
Brown University

Abstract

Young female offenders represent a growing number of young offenders. Studies have shown that youth in the juvenile justice system, particularly young females, report higher rates of lifetime sexual abuse than their nonoffending peers. The aim of this study was to examine gender differences in risk factors for recidivism, including a history of sexual abuse, among a juvenile court clinic sample. Findings suggest that, even after accounting for previously identified risk factors for recidivism such as prior legal involvement and conduct problems, a history of sexual abuse is the most salient predictor of recidivism for young female offenders, but not for males. The development of gender-responsive interventions to reduce juvenile recidivism and continued legal involvement into adulthood may be warranted.

Keywords

juvenile justice, recidivism, gender differences, sexual abuse

Summary of the Research

The authors conducted a retrospective chart review of 402 juvenile offenders, ages 11–17, who received a court-ordered forensic mental health evaluation at a Juvenile Court Clinic in the Northeast between 2006 and 2008. Files were coded for demographic and clinical variables, such as age, gender, race or ethnicity, psychiatric diagnosis, history of substance use, and history of child sexual abuse. In addition, information on legal history was coded for each juvenile, as were the results of various standardized measures of psychological functioning and symptomatology.

“The goal of the present study [was] to examine gender specific predictors of juvenile recidivism in a sample of [court-involved, nonincarcerated] juveniles court-ordered for forensic mental health evaluation” (p. 306).

“Of the 402 juveniles included in this study, the majority were male (240 males, 162 females) with an average age of 14.80 (SD 1.6) years. Most juveniles identified their race as White (60%) with the remainder identifying as African American (6%), Hispanic/Latino (18%), and Other (e.g., Asian Pacific Islander, Native American; 3%); 7% of juveniles were missing race and ethnicity data” (p. 308).

Sixty percent (n = 244) of juveniles reported some history of substance use (e.g., marijuana use, alcohol use, or other substance use). History of marijuana use was reported by 57% (n = 213) of juveniles; alcohol was reported by 52% (n = 182) and 15% (n = 42) of the sample reported history of other drug use (e.g., ecstasy, LSD, and cocaine). Males and females reported similar rates of marijuana use (60% of males and 54% of females), alcohol use (52% of males and 52% of females) and other drug use (15% of males and 17% of females)” (p. 308).

“Seventy-one percent (n = 288) were first-time offenders at the time of their court-ordered evaluation. Of the entire sample 18% (n = 71) of juveniles had a prior status offenses (range of 1–4 prior status offenses) and 11% (n = 43) of the sample had prior criminal offenses (range of 1–4 prior criminal offenses; offenders could have one petition filed with multiple charges or offenses). Girls had higher rates of status offenses (21% of females vs. 18% of males) but lower rates of past criminal offenses (12% of females vs. 17% of males)” (p. 308).

Eighty-three percent (n = 337) of juveniles evaluated were given a primary Axis I diagnosis with the most common diagnoses being Oppositional Defiant Disorder (23%); mood disorders (15%); anxiety disorders (11%), and Conduct Disorder (10%). “Approximately 68% (n = 249) of the total sample were diagnosed with externalizing disorders as their primary diagnosis resulting from the juvenile court clinic, which included a similar proportion of males and females. Additionally, 3% of the total samples were diagnosed with PTSD. Rates of PTSD diagnosis were higher in females. The majority of juveniles (61%) reported prior mental health treatment, 14% reported at least one prior psychiatric hospitalization and 37% reported a history of psychotropic medication” (p. 308).

Sixty-six percent (n = 263) of the evaluations included information about presence or absence of past child sexual abuse (CSA). “In the evaluations that included this information, 14% (n = 37) of juveniles (or caregivers) reported that the juvenile had a CSA history. A higher proportion of girls and/or their caregivers reported a history of CSA (23% of girls vs. 8% of boys). Additionally, 75% (n = 263) reported experiencing any type of trauma (e.g., witness to violence, loss, and abuse). General trauma exposure was not found to be associated with recidivism in the full sample or separately for boys or girls” (p. 309).

“Over the 12 month follow-up period, 28% of juveniles were classified as recidivists (n = 114). Males in the sample had higher rates of recidivism (32%) than girls (22%). Recidivists did not differ from nonrecidivists on age and race/ethnicity or offense type (i.e., status vs. criminal offender). Recidivists were, however, more likely to have an externalizing disorder and prior status offense than non-recidivists” (p. 309).

“Male recidivists were more likely to report lifetime substance use and have a history of past offense than male nonrecidivists. Female recidivists reported higher rates of past CSA than female nonrecidivists” (p. 309).

Logistic regression analyses indicated that 12-month recidivism was significantly associated with being diagnosed with an externalizing disorder. In addition, the interaction between history of child sexual abuse and gender was also a significant predictor of 12-month recidivism: “for males a history of sexual abuse did not differentiate rate of 12 month recidivism whereas for girls, those who had a history of sexual abuse had five times greater odds of recidivating than their nonabused female counterparts” (p. 309).

Translating Research into Practice

These findings “contribute to existing literature that suggests a history of CSA may uniquely contribute to girls’ risk for legal involvement and that CSA may be a notable precedent for female criminal activity…Even after accounting for known risk factors for recidivism (e.g., prior offense history), CSA remains a unique significant predictor of recidivism for young female, but not male, juvenile offenders with identified psychiatric concerns” (p. 310).

“Behaviors that are correlated with CSA history among girls (e.g., elopement, truancy, and aggressive or assaultive) are also those behaviors that typically result in their legal involvement (the majority being status offenses). Thus, relative to boys, there may be something distinct about girls’ behavioral symptom expression of having a CSA history that increases their risk for legal involvement” (p. 311).

“Girls may also have a different experience of CSA than boys that could impact their behavioral and psychiatric presentation. Girls are more likely to be chronically victimized, to be victim to more severe acts of sexual abuse and at an earlier age than boys; factors that are also associated with poorer psychiatric and behavioral (e.g., substance use) outcomes. Traumatic experiences, and the subsequent symptom expression, could be contributing to an increase in behaviors that are associated with legal involvement for girls (e.g., aggression, truancy, and substance use). Thus, girls already involved in the justice system with CSA histories may be placed at greater risk for additional legal involvement by virtue of the behaviors associated with untreated trauma symptoms. In particular, delinquent girls with a trauma (including sexual abuse) history are at increased risk for developing depression relative to their male delinquent counterparts, which could perhaps be attributed to some of these aforementioned abuse characteristics that differ by gender (p. 311).

This study provides preliminary data related to gender differences in recidivism risk for court-involved nonincarcerated youth with identified mental health concerns. Adolescents who continue to commit crimes once involved in the justice system are at increased risk for a variety of negative outcomes including repeat incarceration, involvement in the adult criminal justice system, substance use, high risk sexual behavior, and poor academic achievement. Thus, understanding the risk factors associated with recidivism is an important step in identifying youth who may be in need of additional support or specific intervention to reduce the risk of continued system involvement. While most Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) Assessments, aimed at reducing further delinquency, are for use with both genders and they do not include abuse history as a factor for possible intervention point for risk reduction…Thus, [these] data add to the growing body of literature that suggests that gender-responsive supports and interventions may be warranted” (p. 312).

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

“This study represents an initial, but important, exploration of the association between recidivism and CSA. Future studies may wish to explore types of abuse (e.g., physical, emotional, and witness to violence) and frequency and intensity of abuse on risk for recidivism. Additionally, studies focused on larger and more general samples of court involved nonincarcerated youth could provide additional information, particularly with respect to the development of PTSD and it is association with recidivism. While male juvenile offenders may need additional intervention surrounding criminal attitudes and impulsive behavior, young female offenders with an identified history of CSA may need trauma-informed treatment and support to deter continued criminal behavior” (p. 312).

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Free Article: Juvenile Justice Interventions

offrehabThe Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, published by Taylor & Francis, has made the following article available free of charge until the end of 2014. To access the article please click the title of the article below. To download a PDF of the article, please click here.

Juvenile Justice Interventions: System Escalation and Effective Alternatives to Residential Placement

Authors:

STEPHANIE BONTRAGER RYON, The Justice Research Center, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
KRISTIN WINOKUR EARLY, The Justice Research Center, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
GREGORY HAND, The Justice Research Center, Tallahassee, Florida, USA
STEVEN CHAPMAN, The Justice Research Center, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

Abstract:

The overarching goals of the evaluation are to assess the use of community-based interventions as an alternative to residential commitments for delinquent youth, and determine why some youth escalate from community-sanctions to residential placement. Using logistic regression and propensity score matching techniques, the study examined pathways through the continuum of care, and the relative effectiveness of probation and residential dispositions. All youth disposed to either juvenile probation (n = 2,823) or residential facilities (n = 269) in Connecticut between July 1, 2005 and June 30, 2007 were included in the study. The results demonstrate that delaying delinquency and increasing family protective factors help prevent youth escalation through the system. Further, an assessment of comparable probation and residential placements revealed that probationers had significantly lower recidivism than those placed in commitment programs. These findings suggest that community-based supervision is an effective alternative to more restrictive and costly residential services for some juvenile delinquents; and highlight important considerations for reducing system escalation.

KEYWORDS: community-based programs, juvenile, probation, recidivism, residential

Crime + Substance Misuse = Increased Risk

lhbAdolescents who commit crime and misuse substances are at increased risk for subsequent crime and substance-related social problems compared to adolescents who only commit crime or who only misuse substances or who do neither. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in Law and Human Behavior. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

Featured Article | Law and Human Behavior | 2013, Vol. 38, No. 2, 139-150

Crime and Substance Misuse in Adjudicated Delinquent Youth: The Worst of Both Worlds

Author

Glenn D. Walters, Kutztown University

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine whether comorbid offending and substance misuse in previously adjudicated delinquents correlated better with measures of concurrent antisocial cognition and personality and subsequent criminality and substance misuse than offending or substance misuse alone. A sample of 1,177 youths was divided into four groups based on self-reported crime and substance misuse data from Wave 4 (ages 16–21) of the Pathways to Desistance study (Mulvey, 2012): a no-crime and substance-misuse (NCS) group, a crime-only (CO) group, a substance-misuse-only (SO) group, and a crime and substance-misuse (C&S) group. As predicted, youths in the C&S group earned significantly higher scores on concurrent measures of neuroticism, grandiosity/manipulation, callousness/ unemotionality, impulsivity/irresponsibility, and moral disengagement, and significantly lower scores on measures of agreeableness, conscientiousness, impulse control, suppression of aggression, and consideration of others than did youths in the other three groups. Prospective analyses revealed that C&S participants engaged in more subsequent crime and experienced more substance-related social problems than participants in the other three groups and reported significantly more substance-related dependency symptoms and episodes of alcohol/drug treatment than participants in the NCS and CO groups. Hence, previously adjudicated youths who experienced problems with crime and substances in late adolescence/ early adulthood were at increased risk for concurrent antisocial cognition and personality problems and subsequent crime and substance-misuse problems compared with participants in the other three groups. The prospective effects were found to be partially mediated by antisocial cognition in the form of moral disengagement.

Keywords

substance-related problems, delinquency, NEO, mediation

Summary of the Research

Data for 1,177 (1,014 male; 163 female) participants in the Pathways to Desistance study were analyzed using a multi-step data-analytic plan to determine whether “youths who engage in comorbid delinquency and substance misuse may be at greater risk for concurrent antisocial cognition/personality problems and subsequent criminal involvement/substance misuse than youths who only engage in crime or only misuse substances” (p. 139).

The Pathways to Desistance study is the largest longitudinal study of serious adolescent offenders ever completed, involving a multi-site, longitudinal study of serious adolescent offenders as they transition from adolescence into early adulthood. Between November, 2000 and January, 2003, 1,354 adjudicated youths from the juvenile and adult court systems in Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona (N = 654) and Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania (N = 700) were enrolled into the study. The enrolled youth were between 14 and 18 years old at the time of their offense and were found guilty of a serious offense (predominantly felonies, with a few exceptions for some misdemeanor property offenses, sexual assault, or weapons offenses). Each study participant was followed for a period of seven years past enrollment with the end result a comprehensive picture of life changes in a wide array of areas over the course of this time.

Participants were divided into 4 groups on the basis of their Wave-4 interview (which occurred approximately 24 months after their study-enrolling offense): those who endorsed no crime and no substance misuse (NCS), those who endorsed crime only (CO), those who endorsed substance misuse only (SO), and those who endorsed both criminal behavior and substance misuse (C&S). These 4 groups were then compared with respect to their scores on several dependent variables, including concurrent, prospective, and precursor variables.

The various dependent variables collected from each participant included:  short-form version of the NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-SF), providing scores on 5 domains including Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness; a Moral Disengagement score; the Youth Psychopathic Traits Inventory (YPI) providing scores on 3 dimensions including Grandiose/Manipulative, Callous/Unemotional, and Impulsive/Irresponsible; the Weinberger Adjustment Inventory (WAI) designed to assess social-emotional adjustment along 2 dimensions—restraint and distress; and the Future Outlook Inventory (FOI), providing ratings of time perspective, future orientation, and overall level of goal-directedness. In addition, subsequent criminal activity and subsequent substance use problems, collected from Waves 5-10 of the Pathways study, were used as prospective dependent variables.

Participants in Wave-4 ranged from 16 to 21 years old (Mean = 18.03; SD = 1.14) and the ethnic breakdown was 21% White (n = 250), 39% Black (n = 463), 35% Hispanic (n = 410), and 5% (n = 54) from other ethnic backgrounds.

Results indicate that participants in the Crime and Substance (C&S) group “demonstrated significantly more evidence of antisocial cognition and personality than participants in the other three conditions” (p. 144). In addition, “C&S participants recorded significantly worse outcomes on all five offending measures (total offending, total offending without any drug offenses, aggressive offending, income offending, and income offending without any drug offenses) relative to CO, SO, and NCS participants. The C&S group also endorsed significantly more subsequent social consequences from substance use than participants in the other three conditions, and significantly more substance-use dependency symptoms and of alcohol/drug treatment than participants in the NCS and CO groups” (p. 144).

Translating Research into Practice

“The results of this study revealed that a group of 16-21-year-old previously adjudicated delinquents who were still committing criminal acts and experiencing substance-related difficulties 24 months after being adjudicated displayed higher levels of antisocial cognition and personality, more extensive involvement in subsequent criminal activity, and more problems with subsequent misuse of substances than previously adjudicated delinquents who engaged in only one or neither of these behaviors” (p. 146).

“Several of the cognitive/personality measures examined … may provide clues as to what may be behind the generally poor ability of C&S participants to avoid future offending and substance misuse. First, measures of negative affect (high NEO-Neuroticism), fearlessness (low NEO-Agreeableness, high Moral Disengagement, high YPI-Callousness/Unemotionality), and disinhibition (low NEO-Conscientiousness, high YPI-Impulsiveness/Irresponsibility, low WAI-Impulse Control), three temperaments viewed to be central to the formation of comorbid patterns of offending and substance misuse, were significantly more prevalent in the C&S group than in the CO and SO groups” (p. 147).

Further results disclosed the presence of a significant mediation effect attributable primarily to the Moral Disengagement variable. “Hence, we can add [Moral Disengagement]—the tendency to use cognitive strategies to justify, rationalize, and neutralize one’s own deviant and unethical behavior—to the list of cognitive variables…found to mediate the past-deviance-future-deviance relationship.” Other cognitive variables found to mediate this relationship include: criminal thinking, weak self-efficacy for conventional behavior, impulsive decision-making, physically hedonistic values, and general antisocial cognition.

“When crime and substance misuse are observed in the same individual, risk-management principles dictate that offending, substance misuse, and antisocial cognition/personality processes be targeted for intervention. This may entail reducing the negative emotionality observed in those who commit crime and misuse substances with stress- and emotion-management training, managing impulsivity and low self-control with skill-based interventions like problem solving, and challenging the mollification or neutralization patterns that mediated the subsequent offending/substance-misuse relationships in the current study with interventions directed at proactive criminal thinking styles.

Early identification of individuals at risk for future comorbid crime and substance-misuse difficulties, using temperament—negative emotionality, fearlessness, and disinhibition, in particular—as a guide may have promise as an aid to prevention and intervention. Additional research is required, however, to determine whether a temperament-based approach to prevention and intervention is effective in managing the risk presented by late adolescent/early adult individuals who exhibit comorbid patterns of crime and substance misuse” (p. 148).

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

Researchers will be interested to read about the multi-stage data analytic strategy used in this study, including path and causal mediation analyses.

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IQ Moderates the Relation between Psychopathy and Juvenile Offending

lhbIQ was found to moderate the relation between psychopathy and juvenile offending such that the highest levels of offending were found in youth with relatively higher levels of psychopathy and relatively higher IQ. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in Law and Human Behavior. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

Featured Article | Law and Human Behavior | 2014, Vol. 38, No. 1, 23-33

Does IQ Moderate the Relation Between Psychopathy and Juvenile Offending?

Authors

Ashley S. Hampton, Temple University
Deborah A. G. Drabick, Temple University
Laurence Steinberg, Temple University 

Abstract

Although evidence indicates that both psychopathy and intelligence independently predict juvenile offending, relations among IQ, psychopathy, and offending are inconsistent. We investigated whether intelligence moderates the relation between psychopathy and both income and aggressive offending concurrently and over time among 1,354 juvenile offenders enrolled in Pathways to Desistance, a prospective study of serious juvenile offenders in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Phoenix, Arizona. Participants were assessed on intelligence, psychopathy, and self-reported offending at their initial interview (age range: 14–18 years old), and at 36 and 84 months later. Results indicate that intelligence moderates the concurrent relation between both income and aggressive offending and total psychopathy, as well as scores on Factor 1 (interpersonal/affective) and Factor 2 (social deviance); the 36-month prospective relation between all aspects of psychopathy and income offending; and the 84-month prospective relation between Factor 2 psychopathy and aggressive offending. As expected, higher levels of psychopathy are associated with higher levels of offending, but the highest levels of offending are evinced among youth with relatively higher levels of psychopathy and relatively higher IQ.

Keywords

psychopathy, intelligence, adolescence, juvenile offenders, offending

Summary of the Research

“The current study investigated whether IQ moderates the relation between total, Factor 1, and Factor 2 psychopathy scores and both income and aggressive offending among a large, diverse sample of adjudicated adolescents cross-sectionally and longitudinally” (p. 25).

A total of 1,354 serious juvenile offenders enrolled in the Pathways to Desistance prospective study in Philadelphia, PA and Phoenix, AZ participated in this study. Participants were between the ages of 14 and 17 at the time of their arrest for any felony, excluding less serious property crimes, or a similarly serious nonfelony offense, including misdemeanor sexual assault or misdemeanor weapons offenses. Each participant was administered a computer-assisted interview as well as a number of assessment measures, including the PCL:YV (Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version) to assess psychopathy, the WASI (Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence) to assess intelligence, and the Self-Report of Offending (SRO) to assess offending behavior. Data were analyzed to determine the relations between psychopathy and offending and to determine whether IQ acts as a moderating variable in the relation between psychopathy and juvenile offending behavior (broken into aggressive offending and income-generating offending). Data were analyzed in terms of concurrent relations at baseline as well as in terms of predictors at 36- and 84-month follow-ups.

Results indicate that IQ moderates the relation between psychopathy and both aggressive and income-generating offending such that the highest levels of both aggressive offending and income-generating offending at baseline were found among youth with higher levels of IQ and higher levels of psychopathy.

Specifically, “Although higher scores on all measures of psychopathy are associated with greater offending in both IQ groups [higher and lower], the relation between psychopathy and baseline aggressive offending was stronger among offenders who had relatively higher IQ scores. More specifically, the highest levels of baseline aggressive offending were found among youth with higher levels of IQ and higher levels of psychopathy” (p. 27).

In addition, “Although higher scores on all measures of psychopathy were associated with greater offending in both IQ groups, the relation between psychopathy and baseline income[-generating] offending was stronger among offenders who had relatively higher IQ scores. Ore specifically, the highest levels of baseline income offending were found among youth with higher levels of IQ and higher levels of psychopathy” (p. 27).

At 36-month follow-up, “among juvenile offenders assessed as high in psychopathy, high IQ was associated with the highest levels of 36-month follow-up income offending variety scores” (p. 27). IQ did not appear to moderate the relation between psychopathy and aggressive offending at 36-month follow-up.

At 84-month follow-up, “among juvenile offenders assessed as high in psychopathy, high IQ was associated with the highest levels of 84-month follow-up aggressive offending variety scores” (p. 29). IQ did not appear to moderate the relation between psychopathy and income offending at 84-month follow-up.

Translating Research into Practice

“The most important finding from this study is that intelligence and psychopathy interact in their contemporaneous influence on juvenile offending, with higher levels of psychopathy and intelligence conferring the greatest risk among adolescents adjudicated delinquent. There are significant policy implications of this finding. Psychopathy was found to have a significant main effect in predicting juvenile offending both cross-sectionally and longitudinally, and thus may be a valid component in the assessment of risk in juvenile offender populations. However, courts must be cautious not to overrely on assessments of psychopathy in decision-making about juvenile sentencing, and instead consider multiple variables. For example, when making decisions about sentencing or treatment options, intelligence should also be assessed in conjunction with measures of psychopathy in determining outcomes for adolescents. Because adolescents with higher psychopathy and IQ may be at particularly elevated risk for offending, specialized interventions could be tailored to this at-risk group (e.g., programs that place a greater emphasis on teaching problem-solving and perspective-taking skills). Adolescents in this at-risk group are also more likely to reduce their offending gradually over time; thus, it may be beneficial to retain them in supportive, therapeutic services until they reach adulthood to increase their likelihood of ceasing to offend following adolescence” (p. 31).

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

Additional aspects of this paper that are worth noting include the clear presentation of current hypotheses and rationale, the clear and well-defined data analytic plan, and the manner in which psychopathy was assessed.

The last paragraph of the introduction (p. 25) presents clear, well-delineated hypotheses that provide a nice example of how current hypotheses should be linked to the underlying rationale provided by results of earlier research.

In addition, the data analytic plan as set out on page 27 provides a nice example of a clear, well thought out a priori data analytic strategy that allows for testing of current hypotheses as well as additional probing post hoc to determine directionality and significance of interactions.

Finally, “another important strength of this study was its assessment of psychopathy. Psychopathy was assessed using the PCL:YV, which involved a diagnostic interview and review of information from collateral sources and institutional files, which increases confidence in the accuracy of the assessment of psychopathy. Additionally, the analyses examined multiple aspects of psychopathy, which enabled an examination of whether a single factor was driving the results. The use of both cross-sectional and prospective data derived from multiple time points also adds to the evidence that the PCL:YV predicts juvenile offending concurrently and prospectively” (p. 31).

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50 Professional Resources Relevant to the Practice of Forensic Psychology

iStock_000007133021XSmallVarious professional organizations have developed documents and other resources that are relevant to the practice of forensic psychology. We have collated these below for ease of access, as professionals who practice in the area of forensic psychology should be familiar with the existence of these resources. If you have others you’d like us to add, please send them along.

Resources Developed by the American Psychological Association (APA)

Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (amended 2010) by the American Psychological Association

Guidelines for Child Custody Evaluations in Family Law Proceedings (revised 2010) by the American Psychological Association

Guidelines for Psychological Evaluations in Child Protection Matters (revised 2011) by the American Psychological Association

Guidelines for the Practice of Parenting Coordination (2012) by the American Psychological Association

Policy Statement on Evidence-Based Practice (2005) by the American Psychological Association

Psychological Testing on the Internet (2002) by the American Psychological Association

Record Keeping Guidelines (revised 2007) by the American Psychological Association

Report of the Task Force on Test User Qualifications (2000) by the American Psychological Association

Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology (2013) by the American Psychological Association

Statement on the Disclosure of Test Data (1996) by the American Psychological Association

Recent Developments Affecting the Disclosure of Test Data and Materials (2007) by the American Psychological Association

Strategies for Private Practitioners Coping with Subpoenas or Compelled Testimony for Client Records or Test Data (updated 2006) by the American Psychological Association

Statement on Third-Party Observers in Psychological Testing and Assessment: A Framework for Decision Making (2007) by the American Psychological Association

Resources Developed by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law (AAPL)

Ethical Guidelines for the Practice of Forensic Psychiatry (2005) by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Practice Guideline for the Forensic Evaluation of Psychiatric Disability (2008) by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Practice Guideline for the Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation of Competence to Stand Trial (2007) by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Practice Guidelines for Forensic Psychiatric Evaluation of Defendants Raising the Insanity Defense (2002) by the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

Resources Developed by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN)

Consensus Conference Statement on the Neuropsychological Assessment of Effort, Response Bias, and Malingering (2009) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Ethical Complaints Made Against Clinical Neuropsychologists During Adversarial Proceedings (2003) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Official Position of the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology on Serial Neuropsychological Assessments (2010) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Policy on the Use of Non-Doctoral-Level Personnel in Conducting Clinical Neuropsychological Evaluations (1999) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Policy Statement on the Presence of Third Party Observers in Neuropsychological Assessments (2001) by the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

Resources Developed by the National Academy of Neuropsychology (NAN)

Conflict of Interest Inherent in Contingency Fee Arrangements (2011) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Disclosure of Neuropsychological Test Data (2007) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Independent and Court-Ordered Forensic Neuropsychological Examinations (2003) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Presence of Third Party Observers During Neuropsychological Testing (2000) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Secretive Recording of Neuropsychological Testing Interviewing (2009) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Symptom Validity Assessment: Practice Issues and Medical Necessity (2005) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Test Security (2000) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Test Security: An Update (2003) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

The Use, Education, Training, and Supervision of Neuropsychological Test Technicians (Psychometrists) in Clinical Practice (updated 2006) by the National Academy of Neuropsychology

Resources Developed by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC)

Guidelines for Brief Focused Assessment (2009) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Guidelines for Child Protection Mediation (2012) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Guidelines for Court-Involved Therapy (2010) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Guidelines for Parenting Coordination (2005) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation (2006) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Model Standards of Practice for Family and Divorce Mediation (2000) by the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Websites of Interest

American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology

American Academy of Forensic Psychology

American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law

American Board of Forensic Psychology

Association of Family and Conciliation Courts

Council of State Governments Justice Center

Florida Mental Health Institute Department of Mental Health Law & Policy

Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy

Mental Health Law and Policy Institute at Simon Fraser University

National Academy of Neuropsychology

National Center for State Courts Problem Solving Courts

National GAINS Center


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Child-Informed Mediation Results in More Positive Mediation Outcomes

Psychology, Public Policy, and LawChild-informed mediation appears to result in more positive mediation outcomes than mediation as usual. This is the bottom line of a recently published article in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law. Below is a summary of the research and findings as well as a translation of this research into practice.

Featured Article | Psychology, Public Policy, and Law | 2013, Vol. 19, No. 3, 271-281

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Child-Informed Mediation

Authors

Robin H. Ballard, Indiana University – Bloomington
Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, Indiana University – Bloomington
Amy G. Applegate, Indiana University – Bloomington
Brian M. D’Onofrio, Indiana University – Bloomington
John E. Bates, Indiana University – Bloomington

Abstract

With over 1 million children in the United States affected by parental divorce or separation each year, there is interest in interventions to mitigate the potential negative consequences of divorce on children. Family mediation has been widely heralded as a better solution than litigation; however, mediation does not work for all families. One proposed improvement involves bringing the child’s perspective to mediation, to motivate parents to create better agreements. In this randomized controlled trial, we compared new child-informed forms of mediation against a mediation-as-usual (MAU) control condition. In child-focused (CF) mediation, parents are presented with general information about children and divorce; in child-inclusive (CI) mediation, the child(ren) are interviewed and parents are provided with feedback about their specific case. Given the similar focus and goals of CF and CI, main study analyses compared a combined CF and CI group (n = 47) to 22 MAU cases. The CF and CI interventions had a positive effect on mediation outcomes relative to MAU (e.g., parents were more likely to report learning something useful, and mediators wanted their cases to be CF and CI). Cases in CF and CI reached comparable rates of agreement as cases in MAU, but CF and CI agreements included more parenting time for nonresidential parents, and were more likely to include provisions for coparental communication and provisions assumed to be better for child outcomes. Study results are encouraging and should provide support for wider program evaluation efforts to continue refining the CI and CF interventions.

Keywords

divorce, divorce mediation, child-focused mediation, child-inclusive mediation, randomized controlled trial

Summary of the Research

Sixty-nine families undergoing parental divorce or separation in Indiana were randomly assigned to three mediation conditions: Child-Inclusive (CI; n = 13); Child-Focused (CF; n = 34); and Mediation-as-Usual (MAU; n = 22). Child-inclusive and child-focused mediation are interventions developed in Australia to improve mediation outcomes for children. Child-inclusive (CI) mediation takes into consideration the specific characteristics of the child or children at issue whereas child-focused (CF) mediation uses general information about children and divorce to improve mediation outcomes. These two types of interventions (CI and CF) were grouped together to represent child-informed mediation, taking into consideration either specific or general issues regarding children and divorce, and compared to mediation-as-usual, which did not include any general or specific information about how divorce affects children.

“Child-informed mediation approaches are designed to promote protective factors by motivating parents to consider the perspective of their children during mediation. This process ideally leads parents to reduce conflict, make more developmentally appropriate arrangements for their children, be more available emotionally, and keep children out of parental disagreements” (p. 272).

Child-informed mediation included the participation of a child consultant, in addition to the mediator. The child consultant met with the parents at the beginning of the mediation to provide information about the effects of divorce on children (in the CI group, the child consultant interviewed the child/children and provided specific feedback to the parents regarding their child/children; in the CF group, the child/children were not interviewed but the child consultant provided general information to the parents). Participating families in the various groups were asked to complete questionnaires about their mediation experiences. In addition, the mediation agreements were analyzed for content. Results indicated that the parents in the child-informed mediation conditions were more likely to report that they learned something in mediation. With respect to the content of the mediation agreements, child-informed mediation agreements included more parenting time for the nonresidential parent on weekdays, weeknights, and weekends than in the mediation-as-usual agreements. In addition, child-informed mediation agreements were more likely to address communication between parents and the importance of parent-child relationships than were mediation-as-usual agreements. Finally, more child-related rationales were included in the child-informed mediation agreements. The study authors conclude:

“The results of this study provide evidence that child-informed mediation interventions, designed to include the child’s perspective and to motivate parents to focus on their children’s needs, are liked and are perceived as helpful by parents and mediators. They result in mediation agreements that are judged as being more likely than MAU [mediation-as-usual] agreements to facilitate positive child adjustment to divorce.” (p. 278)

Translating Research into Practice

A good amount of research has indicated that children of divorced parents are more likely to have internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and academic difficulties than children whose parents remain together. In addition, children of divorced parents are also more likely to demonstrate relationship instability as adults. It appears that the key determinant of poor child outcomes after divorce is interparental conflict. Thus, interventions that buffer children from the negative effects of divorce or separation, and help to reduce interparental conflict are important. There is a small body of research comparing mediation to litigation but the available literature does show that mediation leads to more parental satisfaction, better parental understanding of child needs, and a better co-parenting relationship. The current research shows that the manner in which mediation efforts are handled may well impact outcomes for both parents and children. A mediation approach that focuses parents on the needs of and impact on their children appears to result in more positive outcomes, both in terms of more parenting time for the nonresidential parent and more statements about the importance of low conflict between parents. The types of messages relayed to parents by child consultants in the child-informed mediation groups included: the impact of interparental conflict on children and the need to develop a civil co-parenting relationship and strong parental alliance; the need for children to have a strong relationship with each parent and the value of quality time with each child; the need for young children to see parents frequently; the need for older children to spend time with peers; and the need for a safe and secure household. These types of messages help to focus the parents on the needs of their children in developing mediation agreements. Mediators and evaluators can use these principles to focus parents in conflict on the needs of their children.

Other Interesting Tidbits for Researchers and Clinicians

The authors also describe results of comparisons between the two different child-informed approaches (child-focused v. child-inclusive), although this was not the primary focus of the research. Further research with a larger sample size is important to address the generalizability of these findings.

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