Criminogenic or Criminalized? Testing an Assumption for Expanding Criminogenic Risk Assessment

Abstract

OBJECTIVES: Proponents of criminogenic risk assessment have called for its widespread expansion throughout the criminal justice system. Its success in predicting recidivism is taken as evidence that criminogenic risks tap into the causes of criminal behavior, and that targeting these factors can reduce correctional supervision rates and even prevent crime. This study challenges these assertions, by testing the implicit assumption that populations in which recidivism risk factors were identified are interchangeable with populations experiencing the onset/duration of exposure to the criminal justice system. HYPOTHESES: Exposure to the criminal justice system increases some of the risk factors used to predict recidivism; therefore, risk factors for recidivism and onset/duration of exposure to the criminal justice system are not interchangeable. METHOD: Secondary analysis of data from 503 boys followed prior to first arrest through early adulthood. Inverse-probability-of-exposure-weighted marginal structural models and fixed effects models were employed to test whether arrests and convictions increase antisocial attitudes, behaviors, and peers. RESULTS: Being arrested or convicted resulted in subsequently higher levels of antisocial attitudes, behaviors, and peers. Risks for recidivism, which include the effect of exposure to the criminal justice system, are not identical to the risks of exposure to the criminal justice system. CONCLUSIONS: Results caution against the uncritical expansion of criminogenic risk assessment from community corrections to policing, pretrial, and sentencing. Researchers and policymakers should engage with the social conditions that put people at risk of criminogenic risks and more cautiously communicate the scope of reform that criminogenic risk assessment can deliver. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

Publication
Law and Human Behavior