The Assessment and Treatment of Women Offenders: An Integrative Perspective

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  1. Reflections on Working with Vulnerable Women: Connecting, Cans of Worms, Closures and Coping
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She is also cross appointed to the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Her research is corrections-based with a focus on proximal dynamic risk assessment and understanding the psychology of female criminal conduct. These approaches incorporate quantitative and qualitative methods as well as gender neutral and female-specific theories of crime. Currently, I am involved in 3 inter-related streams of research: 1 examining the reliability and validity of existing psychologically-based assessment tools that are commonly used to assess female offender risk and need areas but for which little female-specific research exists, 2 developing new models of female criminal behavior using integrated theoretical and methodological approaches, and 3 developing new assessment tools for youthful females that are grounded in theory and research.

Brown, S. The intersection of gender, race and crime: Statistics, theory and correctional Applications. Miville Ed. Springer Publications. About the Authors. Series Editors? Theories of Female Offending. Assessment for Classification of Women Offenders. Assessing Women's Risk. Assessing Women? Responsivity, Treatment and Women Offenders. More Books in Psychology See All.

In Stock. Cold Case Investigations. Rebel Ideas Power of Diverse Thinking. How to Overcome Your Childhood. However, second generation actuarial instruments have two characteristics that present major shortcomings. First, the second generation risk assessment instruments are atheoretical. The items that create these instruments are chosen simply because they are easily available and show an association with recidivism.

The items are not chosen because they are theoretically relevant. Thus, the majority of the items are criminal history items — the type of information that correctional systems are quite efficient at collecting and distributing. The second characteristic of second generation instruments is that the non-criminal history items that sample behaviour also tend to be of a historical nature e. Criminal history and other factors that sample past behaviour are treated as static, immutable risk factors.

This poses a major shortcoming for second generation risk assessment because the scales do not account for offenders changing for the better. There is no possibility for diminished risk to be fair, some of the second generation instruments do have items that can account for some diminished risk, however the number of items represent a minority of items in these risk scales.

Criminal history items remained an important feature of the third generation, risk assessment instruments, as they should. However, in addition to items on criminal history and other static items such as past substance abuse there were dynamic items investigating the offender's current and ever changing situation. Questions were asked about present employment after all, one can lose a job or find a job , criminal friends one can make new friends and lose old friends , family relationships supportive or unsupportive , etc.

Reflections on Working with Vulnerable Women: Connecting, Cans of Worms, Closures and Coping

The third generation risk instruments were referred to as "risk-need" instruments and a few of these were also theoretically based e. Third generation risk instruments were sensitive to changes in an offender's circumstances and also provided correctional staff with information as to what needs should be targeted in their interventions.

Evidence of dynamic validity, that is, changes in risk scores signal changes in the likelihood of committing a new offence, is immensely important for correctional programs and the staff charged with managing offender risk. The third generation risk-need instruments offer a way of monitoring the effectiveness, or ineffectiveness, of programs and supervision strategies.

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  6. Risk-need-responsivity model for offender assessment and rehabilitation 2007-06.

Furthermore, because dynamic risk factors e. Successfully addressing these dynamic risk factors would contribute to an offender's reduction in risk Bonta, To complete the story of offender risk scale development, the last few years has seen the introduction of fourth generation, risk assessment instruments. What is notable in this history is that third and fourth generation risk assessment instruments would not have been possible without the risk-need-responsivity model of offender assessment and rehabilitation. The risk principle states that offender recidivism can be reduced if the level of treatment services provided to the offender is proportional to the offender's risk to re-offend.

The principle has two parts to it: 1 level of treatment and, 2 offender's risk to re-offend. We will reserve our discussion of offender treatment for later but here we focus on the offender's risk to re-offend. As we reviewed earlier, criminal behaviour can be predicted in a reliable manner beyond specialized training and experience the actuarial versus professional judgement debate. We also know that with the third and fourth generation of risk assessment instruments our ability to predict improves with reassessment Andrews et al.

If one of our correctional goals is to reduce offender recidivism then we need to ensure that we have a reliable way of differentiating low risk offenders from higher risk offenders in order to provide the appropriate level of treatment. The need principle calls for the focus of correctional treatment to be on criminogenic needs. Criminogenic needs are dynamic risk factors that are directly linked to criminal behaviour.

Criminogenic needs can come and go unlike static risk factors that can only change in one direction increase risk and are immutable to treatment intervention. Offenders have many needs deserving of treatment but not all of these needs are associated with their criminal behaviour. These seven criminogenic needs are worth assessing and targeting in interventions.

Reflections on Working with Vulnerable Women: Connecting, Cans of Worms, Closures and Coping

To further illustrate the distinction between the two types of needs let us examine procriminal attitudes which are labelled criminogenic. Shifting attitudes through treatment from the procriminal to the prosocial will lead to less criminal behaviour and more prosocial behaviour what you think influences how you behave.

Assessment Planning: Why, When, What? - Assessment Workshop 1

However, increasing self-esteem without changes in procriminal attitudes runs the risk of resulting in confident criminals. Decreasing self-esteem may lead to miserable criminals.

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The probability of criminal behaviour may or may not change as a function of self-esteem. As we have already pointed out, third and fourth generation risk instruments do just that. Finally, we have the responsivity principle. General responsivity refers to the fact that cognitive social learning interventions are the most effective way to teach people new behaviours regardless of the type of behaviour. Effective cognitive social learning strategies operate according to the following two principles:. Specific responsivity calls for treatment interventions to consider personal strengths and socio-biological-personality factors.

Treatment should then be tailored to these factors, as they have the potential to facilitate or hinder treatment.

The essence of this principle is that treatment can be enhanced if the treatment intervention pays attention to personal factors that can facilitate learning. Most have heard the pedagogical advice that one must vary teaching methods to suit visual learners and auditory learners. Offender treatment programs involve teaching offenders new behaviours and cognitions and to maximize this learning experience requires attention not only to whether the offender is a visual learner or an auditory learner but a whole range of personal-cognitive-social factors.

Treatment providers may need to first deal with an individual's debilitating anxiety or mental disorder in order to free the individual to attend and participate fully in a program targeting criminogenic needs. If the offender has limited verbal skills and a concrete thinking style then the program must ensure that abstract concepts are kept to a minimum and there is more behavioural practice than talking.

Increasing motivation and reducing barriers to attending treatment must be well thought-out. This may be particularly important for women offenders e. Before we draw this section to an end, we would like to make a very important point that is sometimes lost among researchers in the offender assessment field. Good offender assessment is more than making decisions on level of risk. If one only cared about differentiating low risk from high risk offenders so that the high risk offender can be controlled through incapacitation or strict monitoring then second generation risk scales can suffice.