U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

A Multisite Study of Variations in Local Juvenile Risk Assessment Performance


Researchers from Washington State University are conducting a study to examine whether local methodological and jurisdictional variations affect the predictive performance or validity of juvenile risk assessment tools. Many common risk assessment tools have been tested to demonstrate accuracy in predicting risk for future contact with the justice system. However, this does not necessarily translate to other jurisdictions in which the tool has not been locally validated. Because juvenile justice systems, populations, and offending patterns vary across jurisdictions, local validation may be important to ensure the risk assessment tool is accurate for the specific population with which it is being used. In addition, the local validation process often does not adjust common features of risk assessment tools to account for differences between jurisdictions. These adjustments can include changing items and response weights and developing gender-specific models and outcome-specific predictions (i.e. violent, felony, property, or drug offending). These adjustments could improve the tools' predictive performance.

The researchers in this study are analyzing risk assessment tools to customize them to attain an optimal level of predictive performance in 10 study sites. The tools that the study sites are using, whether home-grown or commercially available, are all based on the Washington State Juvenile Court Administrators Risk Assessment (WSJCA-RA) and include similar domains and items.

This project is funded under the OJJDP FY 2017 Field Initiated Research and Evaluation Program, Category 2: Small Studies and Analyses, which supports efforts to advance knowledge building and innovation in both policy and practice in juvenile justice and delinquency prevention that have been understudied or merit closer attention.

Next: Goals and Objectives

Date Created: March 31, 2020