Improving Professional Judgments of Risk and Amenability in Juvenile Justice

Publication Date: September 2008

Publisher: MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Adolescent Development and Juvenile Justice (ADJJ)

Author(s): Anne-Marie R. Iselin; Edward P. Mulvey

Research Area: Justice; Law and ethics

Keywords: Criminal records; Actuarial science; Psychology; Youth offenders

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


Mulvey and Iselin recommend and examine three ways to integrate structured judgment approaches into the juvenile justice system that both capitalize on their strengths and support the court's attempts to provide fair, individualized justice. First, more reliance on actuarial methods at detention and intake would promote more efficient and equitable screening of cases for subsequent court involvement. Second, the use of structured decision making by probation officers could provide more consistent and valid guidance for the court when formulating dispositions. Finally, implementing structured data systems to chart the progress of adolescents in placement could allow judges to oversee service providers more effectively.

The challenge for the juvenile system, say the authors, will be to harness the new capacities of the science of decision making and of computer technology to increase the efficiency of its limited resources for the benefit both of the community and of the adolescents in the system.