Juvenile Justice & Assessment
Juvenile justice systems need ways to identify youths’ mental health and rehabilitation needs across various settings (such as pretrial detention, juvenile court clinics, probation, and juvenile corrections). Systems can also benefit from assistance in applying developmental research and incorporating this information into their laws, policies, and practices.
Our research focuses on improving the identification of and response to the behavioral health and delinquency risk of youth in juvenile justice systems. We help juvenile justice systems to adopt best practices for the screening and assessment of youth to address these needs and to decrease the likelihood that they will offend in the future. We have had a series of studies assessing the effectiveness of implementing risk/needs assessment and behavioral health screening tools into different points of the juvenile justice system. We are also interested in how juveniles’ psychological developmental characteristics impact their functioning in legal settings. We provide technical assistance to states regarding juveniles’ competence to stand trial, including brief consultations, sharing applicable research findings, giving input on proposed bills, and providing written and/or oral legislative testimony.
Our current studies examine:
Ongoing Research Projects
Risk Assessment in Juvenile Probation: Contributions of Mental Health & Substance Abuse to Case Planning & Reoffending
Title: Risk Assessment in Juvenile Probation: Contributions of Mental Health & Substance Abuse to Case Planning & Reoffending
Dates: 1/1/2014 - 12/30/2016
Funder: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation & the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention
PI: Gina Vincent, Ph.D.
Description: A two-year quasi-experimental research study of the impact of implementing risk assessment and risk-needs responsivity in juvenile probation offices in two states.
Title: Assessing Threats to the Developmental Reform in Juvenile Justice
Dates: 1/1/2014 - 6/30/2016
Funder: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
PI: Thomas Grisso, Ph.D.
Description: This two year project will identify threats to the current wave of juvenile justice reform. Recent nationwide reform of juvenile justice policies and initiatives has been based on principles that promote healthy youth development with evidence-based practices. This study uses strategic threat assessment and forecasting models that identify consensus among a national panel of experts regarding challenges that threaten the continuance of this reform. The project will provide the field a set of strategies to mitigate threats to the continued progress of the current developmental reform of juvenile justice in the United States.
Title: Validation and Implementation of the OYAS-Div Risk Screen Project
PI: Gina Vincent, Ph.D.
Funding: Arkansas Advocates for Children and Family
Time Frame: 4/1/2015 - 3/31/2016
Description: This subcontract is to locally validate and implement the Diversion version of the Ohio Youth Assessment System in juvenile intake offices in Arkansas. Gina Vincent, PhD (PI) and Rachael Perrault, MA (Research Project Director) at UMMS will oversee the integration of the OYAS screen into juvenile intake in one county for data gathering purposes. The goal is to obtain a sample of 200 to 250 youth who receive an OYAS screen by an intake worker. This sample of youth will be used to derive a temporary cutoff score on the OYAS based on the overall distribution of scores. Re-offense data on this sample of youth will be needed to derive a more valid cutoff score for the OYAS screen for use at juvenile intake in Arkansas. Once the sample of 200 to 250 cases is drawn, UMMS will work with the IT Department to track new petition data for this sample in Contexte. We will track new petitions (and convictions) for a period of six months. Once the re-offense data are obtained from the IT Department, UMMS will conduct Cox Regressions and Receiver Operating Characteristic curves to determine the best cutoff for use of the OYAS diversion screen. At that time, UMMS will assist the AOC with implementing the tool throughout intake departments by drafting policy and determining exactly how it will be used in diversion decisions.