Wednesday, December 26, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, December 26, 2007


NCJ 220653
Renee Gobeil; Kelley Blanchette
Revalidation of a Gender-Informed Security Reclassification Scale for Women Inmates
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume:23 Issue:4 Dated:November 2007 Pages:296 to 309
This study examined the convergent and predictive validity of the Security Reclassification Scale for Women (SRSW). The results demonstrate that the SRSW continues to be a consistent, reliable, and valid scale for use in substantiating security reclassification decisions with Canadian federally sentenced women; security classification recommendations equaled or outperformed correctional case worker recommendations on all indices of validity. Offender classification is a process used to identify the degree of risk posed by individual offenders, both within a correctional institution and on release to the community by informing management of the assessed risk. These finding have important consequences, given that over classification can result in offenders being detained in overly secure environments and/or denied discretionary release. The SRSW is an objective, gender-informed classification instrument developed between 1998 and 2000 for federally sentenced women. Field tested from 2000 to 2003, the SRSW was implemented nationally in September 2005. Using actuarial methods, the instrument provides a recommended security classification for women, which when coupled with the caseworker’s clinical appraisal of the offender’s risk, secures a reclassification decision. The SRSW focuses predominantly on dynamic factors to assess escape risk, risk to the public if an escape were to occur, institutional adjustment and behavior, and changes in the offender’s behavior since the preceding review. The study was limited: the interviewer reliability associated with the two SRSW items that are scored by case-workers was not examined; only institutional behavior was considered in examining predictive validity; other indicators, such as escape incidents and discretionary release decisions also warrant study; and the individual items of the scale should continue to be revalidated periodically to ensure that it remains relevant to the changing Federal offender population. The sample included 448 consecutive security reviews of 298 adult women offenders in Canadian Federal facilities between 2005 and February 2007. Notes, references

NCJ 220654
Emily M. Wright; Emily J. Salisbury; Patricia Van Voorhis
Predicting the Prison Misconducts of Women Offenders: The Importance of Gender-Responsive Needs
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume:23 Issue:4 Dated:November 2007 Pages:310 to 340
This study examined the role that gender-responsive needs play in women’s adjustment to prison. Results suggest that gender-responsive needs are predictive of institutional misconducts in prison; these gender-responsive needs performed as well as, and in some instances slightly better, than gender-neutral needs when predicting institutional misbehavior. In particular, childhood abuse, unsupportive relationships, experiencing anxiety or depression, and psychosis were highly related to the likelihood that a woman might incur institutional misconducts within 6 and 12 months of incarceration. Gender-responsive risk assessment instruments are best used in treatment-intensive settings, including regional, community-based correctional centers focused on wrap-around services and facilities where inmate transition is a priority. States that reserve some facilities for intensive programming and others for more limited approaches to low-risk offenders might also benefit from these systems because the assessments also differentiate between high-need and low-need inmates. The nature of the risk factors observed in this research might also suggest that prisons potentially need to re-evaluate policies and conditions that aggravate trouble inmates. Trauma-informed policies, family reunification, improved mental health services, and enhanced staff skills for managing women offenders all appear to be warranted. Data collection and analyses were funded by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC). The sample consisted of 272 newly admitted women offenders to the Missouri Department of Corrections from February 2004 through July 2004. Followup data describing the incidence and prevalence of prison misconduct were obtained between August 2004 and July 2005. Notes, references

NCJ 220656
Kristy Holtfreter; Rhonda Cupp
Gender and Risk Assessment: The Empirical Status of the LSI-R for Women
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
Volume:23 Issue:4 Dated:November 2007 Pages:363 to 382
This study evaluated the empirical status of the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) for women offenders. Empirical evidence indicated that the LSI-R appeared to fare better when predicting the more extreme recidivism outcomes among female offenders. Women were disproportionately affected by early life events, such as abuse, victimization, neglect, and poverty. Victimization experiences as children were recurrent themes in females’ own assessment of factors that contributed to their criminality; street women and harmed or harming women shared similar backgrounds that were full with victimization experiences. Later life events were influential in female crime and recidivism as were economic and interpersonal issues. The analyses suggest that the LSI-R works differently for various offender groups and that the bulk of research used to support claims of gender neutrality was based on males. Many claims touting gender neutrality are based on research that either failed to disaggregate samples by sex or used non-representative samples of female offenders. The limited number of studies on female offenders suggests that it is simply too early to come to any definitive statement mirroring the optimistic conclusions reached in research on male offenders. Although the LSI-R does appear to work fairly well for women whose offending context may be most similar to males, the same cannot be said for women who follow gendered pathways to crime. The evaluation used in this research covered 41 studies on the performance of the LSI-R for female samples, male samples, and mixed female/male samples conducted during a 20-year research period from 1986 through 2006. Of this number, just 11 studies or 25 percent reported statistics for females; the 11 studies summarized the current empirical status of the LSI-R for women. Research designs that incorporate quantitative and qualitative methods should be advanced since continuing to simply add gender in tests of criminological theories and actuarial risk assessment may be costly to society in the long run. Table, notes, references

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