International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology

Sage Publications, Inc.
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  • The Importance of Context: An ESM Study in Forensic Psychiatry

    Experience Sampling Method (ESM) is a structured diary technique assessing variations in thoughts, mood, and psychiatric symptoms in everyday life. Research has provided ample evidence for the efficacy of the use of ESM in general psychiatry but its use in forensic psychiatry has been limited. Twenty forensic psychiatric patients participated. The PsyMate™ Device emitted a signal 10 times a day on six consecutive days, at unpredictable moments. After each “beep,” the patients completed ESM forms assessing current context, thoughts, positive and negative affect, and psychotic experiences. Stress was measured using the average scores of the stress related items. Compliance rate was high (85% beeps responded). Activity stress was related to more negative affect, lower positive affect, and more psychotic symptoms. This finding was restricted to moments when a team member was present; not when patients were alone or with other patients. ESM can be useful in forensic psychiatry and give insights into the relationships between symptoms and mood in different contexts. In this study activity-related stress was contextualized. These findings can be used to personalize interventions.

  • Behavior Sequencing Violent Episodes in Forensic Youth Populations

    Every year, more children and youths are sent to Secure Children’s Homes while moving through the criminal justice system. Aggressive and violent incidents in these settings are common, and staff are often required to intervene and restrain violent individuals. The research literature has many examples of aggression and violence questionnaires and measures; however, for staff in communal areas it is the observable behaviors that they react to most. The current research, therefore, analyzed observable behaviors leading-up to violent episodes, and used Behavior Sequence Analysis to highlight the typical chains of behaviors that tend toward violence. The outcomes of this research show pathways to violence that staff can use to highlight potential spirals of aggression and violence. The current results show the links between non-confrontational behaviors (e.g., talking) through to more confrontational (staring, approaching, and pushing others). Overall, the research forms the foundation for future investigation into these and similar settings and outlines a novel approach to understanding violence escalation in a way that can be interpreted and used by service staff.

  • The Role of Personal Resilience and Interpersonal Support in Building Fulfilling and Prosocial Lives: Examining the Good Lives Model among Young Women Four Years after Youth Detention

    Despite growing interest in strength-based rehabilitation frameworks, relevant internal/external resources that are likely to facilitate the rehabilitation of detained female adolescents (DFA) have been understudied. This study aims to fill this gap by studying the role of young women’s personal resilience and interpersonal support in building fulfilling and prosocial lives 4 years after youth detention, thereby examining the strength-based good lives model (GLM). Forty-nine former DFA (Mage = 20.75) completed questionnaires about resilience, support, Quality of Life (QoL), and offending. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that young women with more resilience displayed higher QoL and less offending, while more support was associated with higher QoL only. The relationship between resilience and QoL/offending did not depend upon the level of support. Overall, our results support the applicability of the GLM to former DFA, showing evidence for the importance of both internal and external resources in building fulfilling and prosocial lives.

  • The Utility of Physiological Measures in Assessing the Empathic Skills of Incarcerated Violent Offenders

    Since lack of empathy is an important indicator of violent behaviors, researchers need consistent and valid measures. This study evaluated the practical significance of a potential physiological correlate of empathy compared to a traditional self-report questionnaire in 18 male violent offenders and 21 general population controls. Empathy skills were assessed with the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) questionnaire. Heart-Rate Variability (HRV) was assessed with an electrocardiogram. The RMSSD (Root Mean Square of the Successive beat-to-beat Differences), an HRV index implicated in social cognition, was calculated. There were no group differences in IRI scores. However, RMSSD was lower in the offender group. Positive correlations between RMSSD and IRI subscales were found for controls only. We conclude that psychometric measures of empathy do not discriminate incarcerated violent offenders, and that the incorporation of psychophysiological measures, such as HRV, could be an avenue for forensic research on empathy to establish translatable evidence-based information.

  • Associations among Bullying Victimization, Family Dysfunction, Negative Affect, and Bullying Perpetration in Macanese Adolescents

    Bullying has become one of the most significant problem behaviors that school-aged adolescents face. The current study examines the strain–delinquency relationship by employing General Strain Theory as a guiding framework. “Strain” was operationalized as bullying victimization and family dysfunction, “delinquency” was operationalized as bullying perpetration, and “negative affect” was operationalized as anxiety and depression. Analyses were carried out based on a group of 2,139 Macanese schoolchildren. Using a structural equation modeling technique, the results revealed that exposure to family dysfunction and bullying victimization was associated with adolescents’ negative affect, such as anxiety and depression. Contrary to our expectations, the indirect effect of victimization on bullying through negative affect was negative, though the mediation effect was relatively small and only significant in boys. In addition, gender analyses of invariance showed that male adolescents who experienced more family conflict and parental control were less likely to engage in bullying. This study could lead to further anti-bullying interventions and practical efforts designed to improve positive parenting and adolescents’ interpersonal skills.

  • Battered Immigrant Women and the Police: A Canadian Perspective

    Since the 1970s, the state response to intimate partner violence (IPV) has increasingly become one of criminalization—particularly police intervention. Little is known, however, about marginalized women’s experiences with the police within a context of intimate partner violence in Canada. Drawing on interviews with 90 battered immigrant women, this study examines which women contact the police, why some do not, and what characterizes their experiences when the police are involved in an IPV incident. This study demonstrates that while the women who called the police were demographically similar to those who did not call, the women who called reported much greater levels of physical abuse. Findings indicate that general fear of the police and fear of police being racist or culturally insensitive continue to be important reasons why women do not call the police. Notably, the majority of women who had contact with the police reported the encounter as positive.

  • Unstructured Socializing with Peers, Low Self-Control, and Substance Use

    Research consistently finds that unstructured socializing with peers and low self-control are both positively associated with substance use among adolescents. However, largely absent from the literature is a consideration of whether unstructured socializing with peers and low self-control have differential and interactive effects when predicting usage of different classifications of drugs. The current study addresses these issues using data collected on a statewide sample of middle school and high school students who participated in the 2017 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey. Results indicate that (1) unstructured socializing with peers is a stronger predictor of soft drug use than low self-control, (2) low self-control is a stronger predictor of hard drug use than unstructured socializing with peers, and (3) the effect of unstructured socializing on both soft and hard drug use is diminished among adolescents who are lower in self-control.

  • Correlates of Drug Use among Offenders in Some Prisons in Ghana

    Among others, the study sought to find out whether being convicted of the possession of marijuana for personal use for the first time or multiple times, would predict marijuana, and other drug use within the past 30 days. Using a cross-sectional survey, two hundred and fifty three (253) male offenders were conveniently sampled from three prisons in Ghana. The average age of participants was 31.26 (SD = 10.19). It was established that those who had been convicted of the possession of marijuana for personal use for the first time were likely to have used marijuana within the past 30 days (OR = 4.15, 95% CI = 2.00, 8.58), and other drugs within the past 30 days (OR = 2.44, 95% CI = 1.09, 5.47). Also, those who were recidivist robbers were likely to have used other drugs within the past 30 days (OR = 6.63, 95% CI = 2.55, 17.25). These, and other findings are discussed.

  • A Comparison of Clients in a Differentiated Batterer Intervention Treatment Program: The Importance of Treatment Level Matching by Referral Sources

    Recent research has emphasized the applicability of the Principles of Effective Intervention for batterer intervention treatment programs (BIPs), including using differentiated treatment models for first-time offenders compared to repeat offenders. The current study seeks to examine treatment matching across clients in two such differentiated BIPs from a mid-Atlantic state—one short-term program aimed at first-time IPV offenders (n = 121) and one program implementing BIP “as usual” (n = 125)—regarding client characteristics and recidivism. Findings indicate that clients in the short-term program were not significantly different than those referred to BIP “as usual” regarding common risk factors such as substance use, education, or employment, and while clients in the short-term program had fewer criminal history offenses, participants were rarely first-time criminal offenders. Further analyses showed no impact of the short-term program completion on client recidivism, while completion of BIP as usual was related to lower rates of reoffending among the program’s clients. Findings suggest the importance of how clients are matched to their level of treatment and more education and monitoring of referral agencies regarding differentiated BIP models. Further research is needed to assess whether short-term BIP programs are associated with recidivism reduction.

  • Does Reassessment Improve Prediction? A Prospective Study of the Sexual Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale (SOTIPS)

    This prospective study examined the predictive validity of the Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale (SOTIPS; McGrath et al., 2012), a sexual recidivism risk/need tool designed to identify dynamic (changeable) risk factors relevant to supervision and treatment. The SOTIPS risk tool was scored by probation officers at two sites (n = 565) for three time points: near the start of community supervision, at 6 months, and then at 12 months. Given that conventions for analyzing dynamic prediction studies have yet to be established, one of the goals of the current paper was to demonstrate promising statistical approaches for the analysis of longitudinal studies in corrections. In most analyses, static SOTIPS scores predicted all types of recidivism (sexual, violent, and general [any]). Dynamic SOTIPS scores, however, only improved the prediction of general recidivism, and only when the analyses with the greatest statistical power were used (Cox regression with time dependent covariates).

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