Sunday, April 15, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, Tax Day Edition

NCJ 217616
David P. Farrington
Advancing Knowledge About Desistance
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume:23 Issue:1 Dated:February 2007 Pages:125 to 134

This article reviews key issues in the crime desistance research literature and outlines a 10-year longitudinal research agenda. As an empirical concept, desistance refers to the process of the termination of criminal offending. As a theoretical concept, desistance refers to reductions in the frequency, variety, or seriousness of criminal offending. The measurement of desistance generally involves any number of measures regarding the termination of offending, typically identified through self-report and official crime data. Measuring desistance is important in order to discover what predicts and causes desistance at different ages or stages of criminal careers. One of the important questions in this type of research is whether later life events predict desistance better than earlier risk factors. Another key issue for desistance research is the relative importance of individual and environmental predictors in the initiation and process of crime desistance. The study of crime desistance has important policy issues. For example, information about the probability of criminal persistence versus desistance can inform parole and policy decisions. Moreover, information on protective factors that foster crime desistance can inform interventions following the onset of criminality. Priorities for future desistance research are identified and include questions such as: (1) how desistance can be measured; (2) can desistance from one criminal career follow initiation of another criminal career; (3) do individuals decelerate criminal activity before desisting altogether; (4) what life events cause desistance; (5) what interventions foster or accelerate desistance; and (6) what are the effects of criminal justice sanctions on desistance? The author recommends that these questions should be addressed for: (1) different ages; (2) different times and places; (3) males versus females; (4) different races and cultures; and (5) different offense types and different types of anti-social behaviors. Notes, references

NCJ 217618
Raymond A. Knight Ph.D. ; David Thornton Ph.D.
Evaluating and Improving Risk Assessment Schemes for Sexual Recidivism: A Long-Term Follow-Up of Convicted Sexual Offenders
National Institute of Justice

This federally supported study sought to evaluate and to improve the decisionmaking algorithms that have been generated to assess risk in sexual offenders by evaluating the existing risk assessment measures in a sample of sexual offenders on whom long-term follow up were available. Highlights of the results were: (1) for the average predictability over all measures, the Bridgewater Observations sample (BOs) were better predicted than Bridgewater Treatments sample (BTs), despite a significantly lower recidivism rate; (2) the cross-temporal pattern of prediction differed between rapists and child molesters, with rapists being predicted better at shorter follow-up periods and child molesters better at longer intervals; (3) all actuarials showed moderate reliability and predictive accuracy with few significant differences; (4) five factors accounted for all of the predictive variance in the existing actuarials; (5) the Structured Risk Assessment (SRA) Needs Assessment consistently had the highest area under the Receiver Operating Characteristic (ROC) curve (AUCs) for the entire sample and for rapists and child molesters separately; (6) age was not found to constitute an important moderator for predicting outcome, and a complex relation among age at index offense, age at discharge, and outcome status emerged; and (7) promising additional subgroup specific predictors for child molesters and rapists were identified. Risk assessment plays a central role in the management of sexual offenders. The study assessed the comparative accuracy of the major risk instruments over time and over sub samples, explored their underlying factor structure, examined the accuracy of a new assessment protocol, the SRA Needs Assessment, and explored the potential for generating improved predictive instruments. To accomplish this, archival files from a prior study which followed 599 offenders referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC) from 1959 and 1984 were used. The offenders were referred from both Bridgewater Treatment (BT) and Bridgewater Observation (BO). They were coded on the modern actuarials that have been developed since 1998 and on a new experimental measure, the SRA Needs Assessment. References and tables

NCJ 217528
Nora D. Volkow M.D.
Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction
National Institutes of HealthNational Institute on Drug Abuse

This report provides scientific evidence about the disease of drug addiction and presents basic approaches for its prevention and treatment. Each year in the United States, the use of tobacco claims an estimated 440,000 lives while the use of illicit drugs and alcohol claims another 100,000 lives. The science of addiction is explained, which is defined as a chronic, relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use despite its harmful consequences. The harmful consequences of drug abuse are varied and can include adverse medical, social, economic, and criminal justice outcomes. Drug addiction is considered a brain disease because the substances actually change the structure and operation of the brain. The main reasons people take drugs are reviewed followed by a description of brain imaging photographs of drug-addicted individuals, which show the physical changes drugs can have on the brain in areas critical to decisionmaking, learning, memory, and impulse control. Many scientists believe that these changes help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction. The mechanisms of addiction are explained in more depth, which account for why some people will become addicted while others will not. The environmental and other factors that increase the risk of drug addiction are identified followed by a discussion on the best strategies for preventing drug abuse, particularly among children and adolescents. Three types of strategies are highlighted: (1) universal programs that focus on the risk and protective factors common to most children in most settings; (2) selective programs that target groups on children and adolescents most at risk for increasing their drug abuse; and (3) indicated programs that are designed for youths who have already begun abusing drugs. The medical consequences of drug abuse are reviewed followed by a consideration of effective addiction treatments, which indicate that addiction is a treatable disease. Exhibits

NCJ 217607
Alison Ritter ; Jacqui Cameron
Review of the Efficacy and Effectiveness of Harm Reduction Strategies for Alcohol, Tobacco and Illicit Drugs
Drug and Alcohol Review Volume:25 Issue:6 Dated:November 2006 Pages:611 to 624

This article reviews evidence for the efficacy and effectiveness of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit harm reduction interventions. Overall, the review supported the wide-spread adaptation and implementation of harm reduction interventions as well as the use of harm reduction as an overarching policy approach for dealing with illicit drug use. The review indicated that most alcohol harm reduction interventions focused on reducing alcohol-related traffic accidents. These driving while intoxicated interventions were rooted in well-founded evidence. On the other hand, limited support was found for the efficacy and effectiveness of other alcohol harm reduction interventions. The area of tobacco harm reduction is still in its infancy and is rather controversial, yet there is evidence to suggest that new products under development may be effective at reducing the harm associated with smoking tobacco. In terms of illicit drug harm reduction interventions, evidence supports the efficacy and effectiveness of needle syringe programs and outreach programs. Yet, few studies have focused on other illicit drug harm reduction interventions, such as brief interventions and supervised injecting facilities. The review included systematic searches of published literature on harm reduction intervention evaluations. Comprehensive searches were completed on the following electronic databases: MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycLIT, Cochrane, CINAHL, Science Citation Index, Social Work Abstracts, OVID, and the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences. Specialist addiction libraries and Web sites were also searched. For inclusion in the review, the goal of the intervention needed to be on harm reduction, not reducing drug use per se. Only English language research was used and there were no publication date parameters. The final sample of research articles included over 650 harm reduction evaluations, the majority of which involved harm reduction evaluations for illicit drugs. Future research should focus on developing a broad and easily adaptable harm reduction intervention policy. References

No comments: