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NCJ Number: 186327 Find in a Library
Title: Comparison of Mental Health and Legal Factors in the Disposition Outcome of Young Offenders
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:27  Issue:6  Dated:December 2000  Pages:688-715
Author(s): Mary Ann Campbell; Fred Schmidt
Date Published: December 2000
Page Count: 28
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This prospective study examined the relative contribution of court-ordered mental health reports and legal factors in determining the dispositions of 76 juvenile offenders in Ontario, Canada.
Abstract: The 76 male and female juvenile offenders represented consecutive referrals by the court under Section 13 of the Young Offenders Act to the Lakehead Regional Family Centre, Thunder Bay, Ontario, between September 1994 and January 1998. The mental health assessments were conducted by two social workers, two psychometrists, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist. The research used only information normally collected during a court-ordered assessment. The measures included past and current offense seriousness, past and current disposition severity, and Section 13 reports and recommendations. Results revealed that poor quality of home conditions and severity of drug abuse, as coded from mental health reports, significantly increased the odds of receiving custody over a term of probation after controlling for legal factors. Legal factors significantly predicted probation length, whereas mental health factors made only a small contribution through externalizing behavior problems. The overall concordance between clinicians’ mental health recommendations and court dispositions was 67.5 percent. The analysis concluded that although these findings suggested that mental health reports influence decision making, this influence is more limited than expected given that the purpose of these reports is to assist such decision making. Tables, note, and 39 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Juvenile sentencing
Index Term(s): Foreign juvenile justice systems; Juvenile case disposition; Juvenile psychological evaluation; Ontario; Psychologists/psychiatrists role in Juvenile Justice; Sentencing factors
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