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Validation of the Los Angeles County [California] Probation Department's Risk and Needs Assessment Instruments, 1997-1999 (ICPSR 3715) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

In 1996, the Los Angeles County Probation Department developed a set of six instruments to better assess offender risks and needs. Each instrument was intended to serve a specific purpose, with separate instruments used for adult and juvenile populations and release and placement decisions. The instruments were to be completed by probation staff. These instruments were tested in a pilot project by probation field staff in 1997. The probation department then asked RAND to re-examine the six instruments for instrument integrity, use of overrides, and relationship to long-term recidivism outcomes. The probation department's research staff had completed the instruments between April and December 1997 using available reports and case file information. RAND's involvement in the study began after all samples had been selected and instruments completed. The probation department gave RAND the data on instrument scores. Recidivism data were gathered at 6, 12, and 18 months after the instruments' administration. For juveniles data on the nature and date of arrest were available from the Juvenile Automated Information files. Data on adult re-arrests were unavailable, but the Adult Probation System provided the date, nature, and disposition of offenses referred to probation.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  IDC (Juvenile) Admission Data - Download All Files (3.7 MB)
DS2:  Juvenile Investigation Data - Download All Files (3.8 MB)
DS3:  Juvenile Disposition Data - Download All Files (3.9 MB)
DS4:  Juvenile Supervision Data - Download All Files (4.1 MB)
DS5:  Juvenile Camp Admission Data - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS6:  Adult Investigation Data - Download All Files (3.8 MB)
DS7:  Adult Supervision Data - Download All Files (3.8 MB)

Study Description

Citation

Turner, Susan, and Terry Fain. Validation of the Los Angeles County [California] Probation Department's Risk and Needs Assessment Instruments, 1997-1999. ICPSR03715-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2003. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR03715.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (1999-IJ-CX-K008)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   adult offenders, alcohol consumption, arrests, drug use, gang members, imprisonment, juvenile offenders, juvenile sentencing, needs assessment, offenders, probation, recidivism, risk assessment

Smallest Geographic Unit:   none

Geographic Coverage:   California, Los Angeles, United States

Time Period:  

  • 1997-04--1999-06

Date of Collection:  

  • 1997-04--1999-06

Unit of Observation:   individuals

Universe:   Juvenile and adult offenders in Los Angeles County who were either on probation or eligible for probation between April and December 1997.

Data Types:   administrative records data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   As with much of the nation, Los Angeles County's crime and arrest rates fell during the 1990s. However, while overall rates declined, the proportion of violent offenses rose throughout the decade, and between 1994 and 1999 arrests for violent offenses made up an increasing percentage of all felony arrests. As a result, more offenders remained in the criminal justice system for a longer period of time. Because Los Angeles County operates under a federal court mandate limiting jail populations, this increase in offender length of stay had to be offset by an increase in the number of offenders released from jail. These and other changes led to what was perceived as a higher risk and need probation population. The Los Angeles County Probation Department responded in 1996 by developing six instruments to better assess offender risks and needs: (1) Juvenile Intake and Detention Control (IDC) Assessment, (2) Juvenile Camp Classification Assessment, (3) Juvenile Investigation and Disposition Assessment, (4) Juvenile Supervision Assessment, (5) Adult Investigation Assessment, and (6) Adult Supervision Assessment. Each instrument was intended to serve a specific purpose, with separate instruments used for adult and juvenile populations and release and placement decisions. The instruments were to be completed by probation staff. Responses to items were weighted and scored, with the recommendation determined by the total score. Policy allowed probation officers to override the recommendation but required a written explanation. These instruments were tested in a pilot project by probation field staff in 1997. After completing the pilot project, it was evident that the department had neither the resources nor expertise to continue beyond a six-month follow-up on recidivism outcomes. The department approached RAND, requesting assistance in the study. For the second phase, RAND was asked to re-examine the six instruments for instrument integrity, use of overrides, and relationship to long-term recidivism outcomes.

Study Design:   The Los Angeles County Department of Probation's research staff completed the instruments between April and December 1997 using available reports and case file information. RAND's involvement in the study began after all samples had been selected and instruments completed. The department gave RAND the data on instrument scores, and subsequently the data that would allow recidivism rates for each sample to be determined. One sample was selected to test each of the six assessment instruments, except for the Juvenile Investigation and Disposition Assessment, which was tested on both court investigation and noncourt investigation samples. Noncourt investigation cases generally involve less serious offenses than court investigation cases. No data were available on whether the instruments were administered with the same rules and procedures among all administrators of a given instrument. The researchers could not rule out the possibility that lack of consistency in instrument administration introduced systematic bias in how items were scored. The Juvenile IDC and Camp Classification Assessments were used as a basis for Department of Probation actions in regard to the study samples, but no actions were taken on the basis of the other instruments. Recidivism data for each sample were gathered at 6, 12, and 18 months after the instrument's administration. For juveniles, data on the nature and date of arrest were available from the Juvenile Automated Information files. Data on adult re-arrests were unavailable, but the Adult Probation System provided the date, nature, and disposition of offenses referred to probation. Part 1, IDC (Juvenile) Admission Data, contains data on the 300-youth sample used to test the five-item IDC Assessment. The instrument was used to determine which youths should be detained and which could be safely released back into the community, pending resolution of their referral. Part 2, Juvenile Investigation Data, contains data on the 377-youth noncourt investigation sample used to test the nine-item Juvenile Investigation and Disposition Assessment. The instrument was supposed to determine whether cases should be closed, assigned to informal probation, or referred to the district attorney. Part 3, Juvenile Disposition Data, contains data on the 397-youth court investigation sample used to test the Juvenile Investigation and Disposition Assessment. The instrument was meant to determine whether youths should be assigned to informal probation or "home on probation," sent to a placement camp, or transferred to the California Youth Authority. Part 4, Juvenile Supervision Data, contains data on the 813-youth sample used to test the nine-item Juvenile Supervision Assessment. The instrument was designed to determine to which of six supervision levels youths on probation should be assigned. Part 5, Juvenile Camp Admission Data, contains data on the 100-youth sample used to test the four-item Juvenile Camp Classification Assessment. The instrument was designed for youths assigned to placement camps and meant to separate those who needed to be placed in the Violence Alternative Program from those who did not. Part 6, Adult Investigation Data, contains data on the 395-person sample used to test the nine-item Adult Investigation Assessment. The instrument was designed to indicate to which level of supervision adult probationers should be assigned. Lower scores were to be assigned to Automated Minimum Services Caseload, while higher scores were to be assigned to one of three levels of High Risk Offender (HRO) supervision. Part 7, Adult Supervision Data, contains data on the 398-person sample used to test the 13-item Adult Supervision Assessment. The instrument was intended to indicate to which of three levels of HRO supervision probationers should be assigned.

Sample:   The samples for Part 1, IDC (Juvenile) Admission Data, through Part 3, Juvenile Disposition Data, were composed of youths whose cases had not yet been adjudicated. The Part 1 sample consisted of new referrals from Central, Los Padrinos, and San Fernando. The samples for Part 2, Juvenile Investigation Data, and Part 3, Juvenile Disposition Data, consisted of new cases assessed in eight area offices. The Part 4, Juvenile Supervision Data, sample was composed of youth already on probation who were new supervision cases in eight area offices. The Part 5, Juvenile Camp Admission Data, sample consisted of post-adjudicated youth who had been assigned to youth camps and were new furloughs from camp headquarters. The samples for Part 6, Adult Investigation Data, and Part 7, Adult Supervision Data, were composed of prorated cases from probation and sentencing, pre-plea, and true summary programs in four area offices.

Data Source:

Needs/risk assessments were completed using data from available reports and case files. Recidivism data were obtained from Juvenile Automated Information files and the Adult Probation System.

Description of Variables:   All parts of the study include dummy variables for sex and race. Variables in Part 1, IDC (Juvenile) Admission Data, through Part 5, Juvenile Camp Admission Data, include start date for recidivism, dates at 6, 12, and 18 months after the start date, the number of days until the first new arrest, and age on January 1, 1998. Variables provided for 6, 12, and 18 months after the recidivism start date include most severe arrest charge, most severe conviction charge, number of new arrests, whether there were any arrests since the recidivism start date, and whether there were any new convictions since the recidivism start date. Other variables in Part 1 from the needs/risk assessment instrument include weighted scores for whether the youth was the subject of an active warrant, youth's most serious present offense, number of sustained petitions in last 12 months, youth's residence, whether the youth was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of arrest, why the instrument's recommendation was overridden if it was, and the total risk/needs score. Variables in Part 2, Juvenile Investigation Data, and Part 3, Juvenile Disposition Data, include weighted scores for most serious offense, prior law enforcement contacts, age at first arrest, gang involvement/peer influence, number of previous out-of-home placements, school performance, family dynamics, mental health, level of recommended supervision, reason for overriding form's recommendation, and total risk/needs score. Part 3 also includes the level of service recommended by the form. Part 4, Juvenile Supervision Data, variables include weighted scores for probationer reporting, whether probationer met restitution/fine/fees/community service obligations, progress made through community habilitative services, school attendance status, employment/vocational training completed, drug/alcohol use, gang association, home/community adjustment, mental health, recommended supervision level, reason for override, and total risk/needs score. Part 5 variables include most serious offense, prior violent offense history, record of assault on staff, record of assault on ward, reason for override, and total risk/needs score. Variables in Part 6, Adult Investigation Data, and Part 7, Adult Supervision Data, include present age, age at first arrest, history of recidivism, present offense, start date for recidivism, dates at 6, 12, and 18 months after recidivism start date, reference date of first imprisonment, disposition date of first imprisonment, days to referral, and days to disposition. Variables provided for 6, 12, and 18 months after the recidivism start date include whether there were any referrals, whether there were any grants, whether any prison time was served, and worst outcome up to that date. Part 6 variables include weighted scores for alcohol use, drug use, gang involvement, age at first conviction or juvenile adjudication, prior probation/ parole grants, prior probation/parole revocations, convictions for assaultive offenses within past five years, adult convictions or juvenile adjudications, and circumstances in current offense. Other variables include total risk/needs score, recommended level of supervision, override reason, assessment date, and court disposition. Variables in Part 7 include weighted scores for attitude, employment, alcohol use, illegal drug use, family dynamics, family finances, education, aptitude, mental health status, peer relations, recreation/hobby, organization/social affiliation, and health. Other variables are total risk/needs score, HRO assignment, reason for override, and assessment date.

Presence of Common Scales:   none

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2006-03-30 File UG3715.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2006-03-30 File CQ3715.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.

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