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Predicting Recidivism in Juvenile Sexual Offenders: A Multi-Part Examination of the Psychopathy Checklist and Risk and Protective Factors




Newman, Jan

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This multi-part study examined the relationship between selected variables and recidivism in a large, detained sample (n = 776) of juvenile offenders—most of whom were juvenile sex offenders (JSOs) released after completion of a specialized, residential treatment program. In Study 1, the predictive accuracy of The Psychopathy Checklist: Youth Version (PCL:YV; Forth, Kosson, & Hare, 2003) was examined for general, violent, and sexual recidivism outcomes in the aggregate sample comprised of 538 JSOs and 222 nonsexually offending juvenile offenders (NSJOs) followed over a 10-year period. Univariate results indicated that PCL:YV scores significantly predicted general and violent recidivism in the aggregate and JSO sample over an average follow-up period of five years; however, only the Antisocial factor significantly predicted violent recidivism in NSJOs. The 13-item (i.e., Cooke& Michie, 2001; 3-factor) and 20-item (i.e., Hare, 2003, 4-factor) models appeared to predict broad recidivism outcomes comparably across the aggregate sample and in JSOs. The 4-factor model and Antisocial factor indicated modest predictive accuracy for sexual recidivism in the JSO sample. In subsequent regression analyses, the Antisocial factor added incrementally to the prediction of general and violent recidivism for JSOs, while the 3-factor model did not. Although the Antisocial factor contributed incrementally to the prediction of sexual recidivism after controlling for age at entry, this contribution disappeared with the addition of the 3-factor model total score. In Study 2, the relationship between recidivism and selected risk and protective factors was examined in the JSO sample. Constructs exhibiting risk and protective effects in the literature were examined and operationalized. Higher Antisocial factor scores and older age entry ii demonstrated risk effects while higher Verbal IQ and internalizing (introversive) traits demonstrated protective effects in the general model. No risk or protective factors were significantly associated with sexual recidivism. Potential implications relating to the use of these risk and protective factors in forensic assessment and treatment is discussed.