Baglivio, Michael T., Kevin T. Wolff, Alex R. Piquero, James C. Howell, and Mark A. Greenwald (2016). Risk Assessment Trajectories of Youth During Juvenile Justice Residential Placement: Examining Risk, Promotive, and “Buffer” Scores. Criminal Justice Behavior, published online before print, September 21, 2016.
Although the Risk–Needs–Responsivity framework has become the dominant paradigm in criminal and juvenile justice, little empirical attention has been given to the reassessment component of the model. Here, we examine dynamic risk and promotive factor trajectories of 6,442 residential commitment placements to assess differences in progression with respect to risk reduction and promotive enhancement through a buffer score rubric (buffer = promotive − risk). Results indicate that youth progress along different buffer trajectories throughout residential placement. Multinomial models also demonstrate that dynamic, changeable factors are more essential in distinguishing trajectory group membership than demographic or criminal history indicators. Finally, there were significant differences in recidivism rates across trajectories postcompletion, suggesting that improvement in (the rate of change in) buffer scores may account for some of the variation in offending behavior postrelease. Programmatic and policy implications are discussed.