Using Risk Assessment to Meet Needs and Reduce Recidivism

Juvenile Specialty Court

Using Risk Assessment to Meet Needs and Reduce Recidivism

December 1, 2012

A growing number of juvenile justice experts are suggesting that an effective approach to reducing recidivism is to evaluate a youth’s risk of reoffending, then match services to his or her specific risk factors. With support from the Models for Change initiative, most of the county-based juvenile probation offices in Pennsylvania have adopted the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS) for this purpose. The near-statewide adoption was a significant accomplishment in a state without a centralized juvenile probation system. A study of the impact of YLS in the probation offices of three counties showed it improved their ability to assign appropriate community-based services and levels of monitoring to individual offenders, and significantly decreased reoffense rates in one county. The study also showed that success requires buy-in from key stakeholders. Pennsylvania’s experience provides a model for how states with decentralized juvenile justice systems can implement statewide innovations.

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Publication Type: 
Innovation Brief