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Can 14,737 women be wrong? A meta-analysis of the LSI-R and recidivism for female offenders

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Abstract:

Research Summary

Over the past two decades, researchers have been increasingly interested in measuring the risk of offender recidivism as a means of advancing public safety and of directing treatment interventions. In this context, one instrument widely used in assessing offenders is the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R). Recently, however, the LSI-R has been criticized for being a male-specific assessment instrument that is a weak predictor of criminal behavior in females. Through the use of meta-analytic techniques, we assessed this assertion. A total of 27 effect sizes yielded an average r value of .35 ([confidence interval] CI = .34 to .36) for the relationship of the LSI-R with recidivism for female offenders (N= 14,737). When available, we also made within-sample comparisons based on gender. These comparisons produced effect sizes for males and females that were statistically similar.

Policy Implications

These results are consistent with those generated in previous research on the LSI-R. They call into question prevailing critiques that the LSI-R has predictive validity for male but not for female offenders. At this stage, it seems that corrections officials should be advised that the LSI-R remains an important instrument for assessing all offenders as a prelude to the delivery of treatment services, especially those based on the principles of effective intervention. Critics should be encouraged, however, to construct and validate through research additional gender-specific instruments that revise, if not rival, the LSI-R.

Keywords: Level of Service Inventory; correctional policy; offender assessment; rehabilitation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-9133.2009.00551.x

Affiliations: 1: Ph.D., is assistant professor of Criminal Justice and associate director of the Corrections Institute at the University of Cincinnati. 2: Ph.D., is Distinguished Research Professor of Criminal Justice and Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. 3: Ph.D., is professor and head of the Division of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati.

Publication date: 2009-02-01

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