Profile Analysis and Risk Assessment: Identifying Distinct Patterns of Risks and Needs

Date01 October 2021
Published date01 October 2021
Subject MatterArticles
Profile Analysis and Risk
Assessment: Identifying
Distinct Patterns of Risks
and Needs
Christopher D’Amato
, Christina A. Campbell
, Jordan Papp
and William Miller
The goal of this study was to identify distinct and meaningful profiles of the seven criminogenic risk
and need domains included on the Ohio Youth Assessment System—Disposition Tool (OYAS-DIS).
This goal was accomplished by conducting a latent profile analysis (LPA) on a sample of 4,383
formally processed justice-involved youth assessed by the OYAS-DIS. The LPA determined there
were six distinct profiles: (1) Low risk and need,(2)Low/moderate risk and need,(3)Low risk/need with
high juvenile justice history,(4)Academic, mental health, and substance use needs,(5)Prosocial skills and
decision making, and (6) High risk and need. Results may help juvenile justice practitioners to identify
and address specific intervention needs of adjudicated youth.
Ohio youth assessment system, juvenile risk assessment, latent profile analysis, risk assessment
Juvenile justice actors must make adjudication and disposition decisions in a limited timeframe.
These decisions may have a drastic impact on a youth’s life. For example, at the disposition stage, a
judge must determine the intensity of interventions and the type of custody most suitable for the
youth. More specifically, judges must determine if probation, diversion, residential treatment,
community-oriented programs, or other services are necessary for reducing recidivism. When mak-
ing this decision, judges rely on various information, including written and oral recommendations
from probation officers, defense attorneys, and prosecutors (National Juvenile Defender Center,
n.d.). More recently, the emergence of structured risk assessment tools has played a critical role in
helping practitioners gather information about a youth’s risks and needs (Baglivio et al., 2015;
Latessa & Lovins, 2010). To date, many court jurisdictions rely on juvenile risk assessment tools
to inform court decisions (Baird et al., 2013).
School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, OH, USA
Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
Corresponding Author:
Christopher D’Amato, School of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati, 560 Dyer Hall, Cincinnati, OH 45221, USA.
Youth Violence and JuvenileJustice
2021, Vol. 19(4) 423-444
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/15412040211012467
The Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model informs most modern-day risks and needs assessment
tools used in courts and corrections. The RNR model helps agencies identify whom to target with
services, which needs to target, and how to target these needs (Bonta & Andrews, 2016). The RNR
model has aided juvenile justice agencies by improving their decision-making processes by drawing
their attention to key predictors of delinquency (Singh et al., 2014; Vincent, Guy et al., 2012).
Through the RNR model implementation, juvenile justice actors tailor treatment, case planning, and
disposition decisions to youths’ unique needs (Latessa & Lovins, 2010; Schwalbe, 2007).
Although risk assessments have become standard practice in the juvenile justice system, translat-
ing their results into practice remains inconsistent (Peterson-Baldi et al., 2015; Singh et al., 2014;
Sullivan et al., 2019). This issue may arise for many reasons, including confusion about how to use
the results of risk assessment (Sullivan et al., 2019; Vincent et al., 2018) and the complexity of trying
to determine how to prioritize eight criminogenic risks and needs areas (Haqanee et al., 2015;
Taxman & Caudy, 2015). Since court practitioners have little information on how risks and needs
work together, one solution is to provide courts with more information on groupings of juveniles
based on patterns of criminogenic risks and needs (Campbell, Miller et al., 2019; Vincent, Guy et al.,
2012). This study aimed to determine whether or not a population of adjudicated youth have specific
risk and need profiles, as identified by the Ohio Youth Assessment System—Di sposition Tool
(OYAS-DIS; Lovins & Latessa, 2013). This goal was accomplished by conducting a person-
centered analytic technique, known as a latent profile analysis (LPA).
Implication of the RNR Model
Much of the research on the RNR model has focused on the measure of risks and needs. Court
practitioners measure youth’s risks and needs by focusing on eight criminogenic static (i.e., stable)
and dynamic (i.e., malleable) areas. These areas are: (1) criminal history, (2) antisocial peers, (3)
antisocial attitudes, values, and beliefs, (4) antisocial personality, (5) employment/education, (6)
family, (7) substance use, and (8) leisure activities (Bonta & Andrews, 2016), with criminal history
functioning as they only static factor (Andrews et al., 2006). Although the measurement of risks and
needs is a critical step in informing treatment, practitioners have limited information about the RNR
model’s final R, which represents the Responsivity principle.
The third—and least-researched component of the RNR model—is responsivity (Bonta &
Andrews, 2016). Responsivity identifies “how” to provide services to youth. There are two types
of responsivity: general and specific. The general responsivity principle states that c ognitive-
behavioral interventions and prosocial skill building are the most effective intervention strategies
to promote behavior change in offending populations (Bonta & Andrew, 2016; Greenwood, 2008;
Landenberger & Lipsey, 2005; Latessa et al., 2020). Specific responsivity directs services to con-
sider factors (e.g., race, sex, mental health, and transportation needs) that may hinder or promote
treatment success (Bonta & Andrews, 2016; Latessa et al., 2020). Through accurate assessments and
interpretations of risks and needs, court practitioners can understand some of the factors critical to
measuring responsivity.
Juvenile Risk Assessment and Their Use
The RNR model’s lynchpin is the ability of agencies to effectively evaluate the risks and needs of
each justice-involved individual (Andrews et al., 2006). The RNR model recommends that agencies
use validated risk assessment tools to evaluate the eight criminogenic risk and need factors. Many
juvenile risk assessments have demonstrated significant predictive validity (Andrews et al., 2006;
Lovins & Latessa, 2013; Schmidt et al., 2005; Schwalbe, 2007). Additionally, these tools have been
validated to predict recidivism for males and females (Pusch & Holtfreter, 2018; Schwalbe, 2008)
424 Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 19(4)

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