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Meta-Analysis of the Ethics of Risk Assessment and Risk Management in Juvenile Justice Research Paper

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Updated: May 12th, 2022

Introduction

Juvenile justice system is a credible system that is made up of young offender’s courts in various nations. The courts hear and determine matters of criminal nature that involves juvenile offenders and imposes appropriate judgment based on ethical principles. Notably, the justice system as adopted in most settings provides credible criminal intervention programs that are aimed at reforming young individuals holistically. The programs provide proper systems of rehabilitation that are driven ethically and assessed using effective assessment tools (Hanson & Morton-Bourgon, 2009). In US, effective assessment and management of risks within the juvenile justice system have played a critical role in enhancing sanity in the court system. The adoption of effective risk assessment tools that include risk checklist, handbooks, brochures, questionnaires among others have been instrumental in fostering absolute identification and mitigation of various hazards within the justice system. Thus, this paper gives a comprehensive discussion on the ethical nature of risk assessment tools that are applied normally when sentencing juvenile offenders. It also covers the ethical nature of risk assessment tools that determines treatment of juvenile offenders. The information contained in the well researched and written journal including other 21 articles have been adopted, discussed and compared appropriately.

Thesis statement

Juvenile justice system was initiated with a mandate to enhance fairness, effectiveness, and efficiency in handling of cases that involves young individuals. This explains the relevance of this study that captured key aspects that touches on ethical nature of risk assessment elements that are applied when determination of how treatment of juvenile offenders is done. They also cover major risk assessment tools and their significance in streamlining operations in various justice systems. The study was conducted to equip various stakeholders with reliable information about potential ethical instruments and practices that can be adopted to determine sentencing of juvenile offenders (Greenwood, 2008). Notably, the ethical practices advocate for fair treatment of juveniles through dominant retributive and rehabilitation programs as opposed to professional or coercive control. Ideally, the justice system is considered noble and would help in advancing holistic restructuring of juvenile court system. This is evident since all its forms are voluntary, participative, dialogue oriented and seek to provide satisfactory resolutions to major issues of criminality that involves young offenders (Schwalbe, 2007).

The research problem, hypothesis and importance of the problem statement

Indeed, there has been lack of proper understanding of how juvenile justice system works in most settings and how risk assessment tools that include questionnaires, checklists among others drive behavioral transformation of criminals (Slobogin, 2013). There has also been lack of understanding on how the justice system can be improved through conventional legal programs that are ethically pertinent. This has been impeding the provision of quality rehabilitation and restoration of behaviors of young individuals. Hypothetically, juvenile justice system was started with noble intentions that included the need to develop young ones who are resourceful socially and economically. It was also adopted to eliminate severe punishments that juveniles have been facing in most settings especially when declared guilty by trial judges. In particular, the justice system was started to create a parallel court system that deals with criminal issues that involves young ones (Albert, 2003).

Similarly, it was meant to ensure that all cases involving juveniles undergoes professional management with an aim of fostering risk assessment of key issues that may require mitigation. Therefore, the idea was to ensure that juvenile offenders are subjected to fair hearings and punishment with minimal risks. However, the noble intentions of juvenile justice system have not been felt in most settings due to inferior understanding of its social implications and ethical principles that drive risk management. This is evident since most individuals especially the critics of the idea cite that all criminals should be treated equally under the law (Coid, Yang & Wong, 2010). They cite that a criminal is a criminal regardless of age and that stipulated punishments under the law should be applied without reservations.

Thus, the study sought to investigate key risk assessment tools and effective ethical programs that are pertinent in transforming behaviors of juvenile offenders. Similarly, it sought to investigate the ethical instruments of risk assessment that are instrumental in determination of treatment of juvenile offenders. According to personal hypothesis, the study lays down a groundwork procedure of building cohesive societies where the rights of juvenile offenders are not watered down through risky practices. This remains essential in ensuring that behaviors of young offenders are restored through holistic rehabilitation to enable them be responsible individuals in their respective societies (Alfieri, 2009).

Meta-analysis of the articles, their relevance including how they are interrelated

The article that is titled as prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders provides detailed information about juvenile justice system and ethical principles involved in ensuring reformation of behavior of young ones. The article also provides basic information that appertains to ethical principles that are necessary in facilitating effective assessment and management of risks within the juvenile justice system. Greenwood who is a renowned scholar wrote the article exemplarily after execution of an extensive research on juvenile justice system and its civic implications on risk assessment and management of offenders. He focused on restorative justice that remains a credible normative theory of criminal justice that fosters prevention of criminal activities among young ones. This is by providing effective ethical incentives that foster risk management. In particular, it promotes reformation and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders through ethical parameters. The reason why he focused on restorative justice that aids the understanding of ethical nature of risk assessment was to ensure that justice is served to young offenders in a systematic manner (Greenwood, 2008).

On the other hand, Robin (2013) noted that absolute ethical practices cannot be realized without proper execution of detailed risk assessment. He noted that fair sentencing and determination of treatment of juvenile offenders could be attained only if proper risk assessment is executed. The author focused on the imperativeness of risk assessment tools due to their relevance in driving change. Key risk assessment tools that he examined include risk checklist that assist in ensuring proper identification of risks, guidance documents, handbooks, brochures and questionnaires. Interactive tools also remain potential risk assessment tool that helps in determining suitable punishment and treatment of juvenile offenders. From the article, it is clear that the risk assessment tools such as questionnaires and checklists enables law enforcers to design amicable punishment to juveniles. They also foster formulation of effective ethical principles that holds the capacity to facilitate absolute reformation of young individuals.

The highlighted risk management tools have also been covered in Bonta’s article that focuses on offender risk assessment and sentencing. They have also been collaborated in the articles that were written by different authors who include Robinson, Schwalbe and Slagobin. The authors affirmed that proper adoption of risk assessment tools enables law enforcers to develop relevant ethical guidelines to facilitate fair management or treatment of juvenile offenders. They affirmed that ethical principles that include dialogue, participatory justice, rehabilitation of character and behavioral change can present great impact if risk assessment is done effectively. They hold that risk assessment tools should be employed by law enforcers to enable them understand the main reasons why juveniles engage in criminal activities. They should also be employed to facilitate development of quality mitigating strategies to curb the spread of criminal activities among young ones. The findings of the studies emphasized on the need for the adoption of ethical programs due to their relevance in promoting restorative justice.

Consequently, Hanold (2006) discussed probationary program as an ethical practice in juvenile justice system. The author asserted in his article the imperativeness of probation in enhancing fairness when sentencing young criminals. He affirmed that probation is a noble ethical program that gives young juveniles the opportunity to reflect on their deeds and change their characters. Indeed, intensive probation is good for young offenders because it contributes effectively in enabling absolute development of professional judgments about various risks. This ensures that proper modalities are put in place to curb challenges that affect juvenile offenders. It is also essential in curbing the main causes of crime among young individuals in diverse settings as established in other articles.

Fair sentencing of juveniles and determination of their punishments requires proper risk assessment. The risk assessment procedures must be predictive enough and structured to facilitate holistic eradication of violent practices among youths. This is important since fair sentencing can be achieved only when law enforcers understand what drives young individuals towards participating in criminal activities. Conversely, it can be achieved when ethical practices are adopted to measure the risks that are involved when rehabilitative measures are undertaken as compared to severe punishments. The article holds the view that structured risk assessment of criminal activities of juvenile offenders must be done using relevant tools. It gives preference to key risk assessment tools that include the use of handbooks, questionnaires and risk checklists as preferred in other articles. The tools are preferred because of their effectiveness in ensuring that quality risk assessment is done and fair sentencing of juveniles is executed. His findings were reasonably similar to those of Arrigo & Sellers especially on the issue of preferred assessment tools.

On their part, Coid, Young & Wong (2010) gave a comprehensive meta-analytic comparison of risk assessment tools. The authors held that risk assessment tools are of great importance in various settings since they enable law enforcers to formulate ethical programs to facilitate eradication of criminal activities among juveniles. The authors performed a study on the effectiveness of various risk assessment tools including how they can help in promoting ethics within the justice system. They discussed risk checklists, questionnaires, guidance documents and brochures. They also discussed user guides and interactive tools. In particular, the authors have supported the use of questionnaires because it hold the capacity of enabling the establishment of primary, secondary issues and provide solutions to diverse complications within the justice system. This is evident since it enables individuals to acquire basic information from major stakeholders with pertinent information. Use of risk checklists is also preferred in most settings because it promotes holistic identification of possible hazards that may impede fair sentencing of juvenile offenders. Possible risks that it helps to identify appertain to the welfare of criminals or convicts. The risks include their health status, psychological capacity and physical impairment that is caused due to heavy punishments or torture enforced on them. These risks require systematic assessment to allow law enforcers to ascertain how they influence service delivery in the justice system. Consequently, the use of brochures, guides and interactive tools have been instrumental in driving result oriented risk assessment. They permit researchers to obtain pertinent information about a subject matter and draw quality findings. The information contained in this article is also collaborated in the works of Putnins, Ballucci and Cole who are renowned scholars.

Andrews & Dowden (2007) discussed the elements of responsivity model of assessment that is useful in ensuring that due processes are followed when sentencing of juveniles is being done. The article also focused on human service in correcting and preventing criminal activities. The authors of the article were keen to develop effective crime prevention jurisprudence where risk assessment tools are used to facilitate sentencing of juveniles. The authors conducted in-depth study on the topic and best results were established. They employed effective research methodologies and data collection techniques. They also involved many respondents that enabled them to attain diverse opinions on the matter. In their findings, it was clear that the model of assessment including human activity greatly influences the effectiveness of risk assessment tools. The authors held that individuals should ensure that risk assessment action plans are executed under the guidelines that are presented by the responsivity model.

David & Mulvey (2008) and Netter (2007) also provided credible information about the imperativeness of risk assessment tools in enhancing professional judgment of risks based on ethical ideals. The study was conducted to earth the ethical nature of risk assessment and relevance of offender risk analysis in modern days. The study connects with that of other authors since its main objectives were similar to that of the other articles that have been highlighted in this paper. This is because they mainly focused on how risk assessment tools aid the adoption of ethical guidelines within juvenile justice system. The authors asserted that enhancement of professional judgments of risks are fundamental in any society that seeks to eradicate crime. It is also fundamental in ensuring that ethical programs such as child rehabilitation and restorative practices are adopted. This is essential in ensuring that juvenile justice system is free from unwarranted bottlenecks that impede service delivery. The body of the article provides reliable information that stakeholders in the juvenile justice system can adopt to promote sanity in the sector through ethical practices.

Notably, all the articles provide pertinent information that touches on ethical nature of risk assessment, the importance of risk assessment and risk assessment tools. In particular, they indicate key risk assessment tools that include questionnaires, brochures, checklists among others and how they can be used to facilitate fairness when sentencing juvenile criminals. They also give clear connection on how risk assessment aids the adoption of ethical guidelines that in turn facilitates fair treatment of juvenile offenders (Bonta, 2007). Therefore, the articles are of great relevance since they hold information that is vital in ensuring that conventional sentencing techniques are adopted by law enforcers. The information will also ensure that the basic rights of juveniles are protected and that they are secluded from adult offenders.

Research methodology and findings their comparison, contrast including similarities and differences

Comparatively, the studies contained in the articles were conducted in a systematic manner that defines their credibility as established. This is evident since their facilitators including the author(s) adopted investigative research method that remains a conventional and effective research technique (Ballucci, 2012). Notably, the technique allowed for the execution of basic activities that were significant in ensuring that quality results were obtained. It also provided the researchers with essential incentives that guided the research process from the initial stages to the end. Similarly, the method was adopted since it provides relevant support incentives that allows for extensive investigation of key issues under study such as the issues that were being investigated. Indeed, the technique was deemed appropriate by the researchers because it normally facilitates the realization of reliable and credible results (Cole, 2007). That is it provides clear basis for which data collection is done and presented. This allowed the researchers to conduct the study that was to establish key risk assessment tools and their contribution in ensuring fair determination of treatment of juvenile offenders effectively. It also enabled the establishment of the ethical nature of the elements of risk assessment that helps in the determination of sentencing of juvenile offenders.

Secondly, the research method provided Greenwood and other authors with an opportunity to develop a clear plan of activity from the point of research topic generation, generation of research questions, data gathering, analysis, and presentation. The technique also enabled the researchers to achieve the purpose of their studies by ensuring that credible results were realized. Variably, the technique gave the researchers an outright opportunity to choose or select effective data collection and analysis methods. This explains the similarity that the studies hold. Evidently, the articles adopted different data collection and analysis techniques. This is clear since some authors decided to use risk assessment tools to facilitate data gathering while some used interviews and verbal means of data collection. Despite the differences in data collection methodologies, the studies were well executed and reliable findings were obtained.

Evident gaps and limitations in the studies

From the quality perspective of the articles, it can be said that the authors applied the selected research technique including data collection and analysis methods to the best of his ability. However, there were some evident set backs that were recorded due to the nature of the topic that the researchers were studying. The challenges included resource constraints, research equipments and lack of adequate time. In particular, resource constraints made some researchers to narrow down the scope of their studies. This made them to choose small sample sizes and less demanding data gathering techniques in a bid to reduce cost of operation (Arrigo & Sellers, 2009). This aspect threatened to erode in-depth achievement of reliable findings by some researchers. It also threatened to compromise the quality of the findings that were generated by some researchers. Lack of adequate equipments such as data gathering materials, data analysis devices and vehicles also posed major complications.

Conclusion and recommendations from the author

As reported, studies on fair sentencing or punishment programs for juvenile offenders have been of great significance to various individuals and law enforcers globally. The studies have facilitated clear understanding of the role of ethical intervention programs in streamlining service delivery and management of criminal cases involving young individuals. They have also ensured proper understanding of the roles of risk assessment tools and how they influence operations i8n juvenile courts. Similarly, they have facilitated stakeholders understanding on the best approaches that law agencies should adopt when prosecuting and punishing juvenile offenders (Netter, 2007). For instance, the studies have helped in creating awareness about the need for the adoption of ethically informed intervention programs such as rehabilitation of character, mediation, and reconciliation to curb the spread of juvenile cases. Over 90% of the respondents who were involved in the studies indicated that nations should adopt effective juvenile justice programs and risk assessment tools. This is essential in ensuring that the programs they undertake are socially and ethically transformative in nature (Andrews & Dowden, 2007). It is also important in ensuring that key risks that may be evident within the justice system are established, assessed, and mitigated effectively.

According to the articles, risk assessment tools are essential since they aid the establishment of ethical nature of instruments that are used normally to determine the type of punishment that any juvenile offender has to face. The tools that include questionnaires, brochures, and checklists that helps in the establishment of possible complications assists law enforcers to exercise fairness when dealing with juveniles. The tools enable them to understand various issues that drive young individuals to crime and how they can be rehabilitated (Mayers & Schmidt, 2008). It also enables them to understand and assess the impact of environmental challenges on juvenile offenders. Similarly, the tools enables law enforcers and authorities to understand key causes of crime and craft viable solutions to the causes with an aim of eradicating crime.

Notably, the authors focused on the imperativeness of risk assessment tools due to their relevance in driving change. Key risk assessment tools that they examined extensively include risk checklist, guidance documents, handbooks and brochures. Interactive devices and questionnaires also remain potential risk assessment tools that help in determining suitable punishment and treatment of juvenile offenders. From the articles, it is clear that the risk assessment tools facilitate formulation of effective ethical principles that hold the capacity to foster absolute reformation of young individuals. The authors affirmed that proper adoption of risk assessment tools enables law enforcers to develop relevant ethical guidelines to facilitate fair management or treatment of juvenile offenders (Iselin & Mulvey, 2008). They affirmed that ethical principles that include dialogue, participatory justice, rehabilitation of character and behavioral change is bound to present great impact if risk assessment is done effectively. They hold that risk assessment tools should be employed by law enforcers to enable them understand the main reasons why juveniles engage in criminal activities.

They should also be employed to facilitate development of quality mitigating strategies with an aim of curbing the spread of criminal activities among young ones. The findings of the studies emphasized on the need for the adoption of ethical programs due to their relevance in promoting restorative justice. This is fundamental since the programs promote character reformation and behavior change among juveniles instead of punishment. Their aim is geared towards ensuring that juveniles are nurtured effectively for them to be viable members of the societies where they hail from since their contribution in economic development is important (Iselin & Mulvey, 2008). In particular, the intervention programs that include rehabilitation, reconciliation, mediation, and probation have contributed in reducing caseload in most nations by 20%.

Therefore, it is recommended that nations that seek to enhance cohesiveness of its citizens and administer holistic reformation of behavior among its youths should adopt preventive or restorative justice programs (Tennis, 2010). The authorities should develop clear operating structures to facilitate mediation and behavioral assessment of offenders. The structures should also ensure that effective ethical guidelines are put in place to promote sanity. Variably, the authorities should emphasize on employing dialogue and reconciliation techniques to in resolving criminal cases between victims and offenders. This is efficient instead of going through exhaustive court procedures (Hanold, 2006). Further, they should embrace the value of participatory justice, healing dialogue and mediation.

Critique of the articles

Even though the studies provide noble findings on the imperativeness of ethical risk assessment instruments, it has some evident gaps that have made some stakeholders take a conservative approach about the idea. This is because the studies has failed to recognize the relevance of punishment in correcting bad behaviors of juvenile offenders but has deemed punishment as a key risk element that must be managed effectively (Alfieri, 2009). The critics have faulted the studies affirming that they focus more on enhancing public knowledge on ethical programs that should drive criminal justice proceedings rather than providing clear-cut legal solutions towards effective management of juvenile cases. This is apparent given that they focus more on providing social solutions and non-punitive risk management methods. Variably, the highlighted intervention programs have failed in giving clear importance of lay participation on achieving the much needed social change. This has not been articulated clearly and in practical terms in the studies despite its relevance in mainstream criminal justice systems (Mayers & Schmidt, 2008). Therefore, the programs are seen as brands for social change but not brands for holistic legal transformation of court proceedings.

References

Alfieri, V. (2009). Jim Crow ethics and the defense of the Jena Six. Iowa Law Review, 94 (5), 1651.

Albert, D. (2003).Civic implications of restorative justice theory: Citizen Participation and Criminal justice policy. Policy Sciences, 36 (3), 279-306.

Andrews, A. & Dowden, C. (2007). The risk-need-responsivity model of assessment and human service in prevention and corrections: crime-prevention jurisprudence. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 49 (4), 439.

Arrigo, A. & Sellers, G. (2009). Adolescent transfer, developmental maturity, and adjudicative competence: an ethical and justice policy inquiry. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 99 (2), 435.

Ballucci, D. (2012). Subverting and negotiating risk assessment: a case study of the LSI in a Canadian youth custody facility. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 54 (2), 203.

Bonta, J. (2007). Offender risk assessment and sentencing. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 49 (4), 519.

Cole, P. (2007). The umpires strike back: Canadian judicial experience with risk-assessment instruments. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 49 (4), 493.

Coid, J., Yang, M. & Wong, O. (2010). The efficacy of violence prediction: A meta-analytic comparison of nine risk assessment tools. Psychological Bulletin, 136 (5), 740-767.

David, R. & Mulvey, P. (2008). Processes of enhancing professional judgments of risk and amenability in juvenile justice. The Future of Children, 18 (2), 35.

Greenwood, P. (2008). Prevention and intervention programs for juvenile offenders. The Future of Children, 18 (2), 185-589.

Hannah-Moffat, K. & Maurutto, P. (2007). Understanding risk in the context of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 49 (4), 465.

Hanson, K. & Morton-Bourgon, E. (2009). The accuracy of recidivism risk assessment for sexual offenders: A meta-analysis of 118 prediction studies. Psychological Assessment, 21 (1), 1-21.

Hanold, D. (2006). Intensive probation with young adult offenders: a short reconviction study. British Journal of Criminology, 35 (4), 599-612.

Iselin, R. & Mulvey, P. (2008). Improving professional judgments of risk and amenability in juvenile justice. Future Child, 18 (2), 35-57.

Mayers, R. & Schmidt, F. (2008). Predictive validity of the structured assessment for violence in youth (SAVRY) with juvenile offenders. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35 (3), 344-355.

Netter, B. (2007). Using group statistics to sentence individual criminals: an ethical and statistical critique of the Virginia risk assessment program. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, 97 (3), 699.

Putnins, L. (2005). Assessing recidivism risk among young offenders. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 38 (3), 324.

Robinson, H. (2007). The role of moral philosophers in the competition between deontological and empirical desert. William and Mary Law Review, 48 (5), 1831.

Robin, C. (2013). Risk assessment in juvenile justice system. Criminal Justice, 27 (4), 10-690.

Schwalbe, S. (2007). Risk assessment for juvenile justice. Law and Human Behavior, 31 (5), 449-462.

Slobogin, C. (2013). Risk assessment and risk management in juvenile justice. Criminal Justice, 27 (4), 1-10.

Tennis, T. (2010). Uniform ethical regulation of federal prosecutors. Yale Law Journal, 120 (1), 144-285.

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