A Validation of the Dynamic Risk Assessment for Offender Re-entry (DRAOR) for use with Offenders with Mental Disorder

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  • Persons with mental disorders face widespread challenges in their lives, including disproportionate involvement in the criminal justice system. As there has been ongoing scholarly debate regarding relevant criminal risk factors for offenders with mental disorders, better understanding their experiences with the criminal justice system is essential to ensure they are being managed appropriately. The goal of the current doctoral research was to validate the Dynamic Risk Assessment for Offender Re-entry (DRAOR) for use with offenders with a mental disorder. A sample of 961 parolees in the state of Iowa (49.7% being diagnosed with a mental disorder) was used to achieve this goal. Findings showed that, while offenders with a mental disorder were assessed as having higher dynamic risk and lower protective factors, they were equally likely to recidivate compared to those with no mental disorder. While the DRAOR had utility with offenders who were not diagnosed with a mental disorder, results were less positive for those with a diagnosis. Discrimination analyses found that the DRAOR was only able to weakly discriminate between those who did or did not violate the conditions of their release, while calibration analyses found that the DRAOR may be under-classifying lower-scoring offenders with a mental disorder and over-classifying higher-scoring offenders with a mental disorder. The consideration of current mental health-related problems augmented the prediction of technical violations over DRAOR assessments for offenders with mental disorder, pointing to the possibility that there may be other factors relevant to risk prediction for this sub-population. Analyses focused on assessments over time found that, regardless of the presence of a mental disorder, offenders' levels of dynamic risk, but not protective factors, changed over multiple assessments. Subsequent analysis found that while DRAOR change scores significantly predicted future technical violations, they did not predict new charges. Overall, these findings point to the need for parole officers to exercise caution with using the DRAOR with clients who have a diagnosed mental disorder. Further research is needed to better understand the underlying reasons why the DRAOR does not work as well with offenders with mental disorders compared to those without mental disorders.

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  • Copyright © 2020 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2020


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