Offender Classification

D. Typologies

Typologies, also referred to as taxonomies, sort offenders into mutually exclusive categories. Typology-based classification tools are available for both communitysupervised and incarcerated populations. The value of typologies lies in their capacity to communicate information about responsivity, one of the principles of effective correctional treatment.

The Client Management Classification (CMC) component of the Wisconsin Classification System, used by numerous community corrections agencies, is an interviewbased tool leading to the assignment of subjects into one of five “strategy groups” (casework control, environmental structure, limit setting, selective intervention–treatment, and selective intervention–situational). The strategy group serves as a guide to the offender’s criminogenic needs, motivation to change, amenability to supervision, treatment referrals, and recommended manner of interaction between officer and client (Lerner, Arling, & Baird, 1986). The Prisoner Management Classification System (PMC) is a prison/residential setting version of the CMC.

Quay’s Adult Internal Management System (AIMS) was designed to inform housing and program decisions in institutional settings. The AIMS consists of two assessments, the Life History Checklist and the Correctional Adjustment Checklist. The latter is completed by correctional staff after observing the inmate in custody for 2 to 4 weeks. Upon completion of the assessment, inmates are sorted by personality types and then placed into one of three categories: Heavies (prone to violence, manipulation, and predatory behavior), Lights (prone to anxiety and victimization), and Moderates (reliable and hardworking) (Levinson, 1988).

Edwin Megargee (Megargee, Carbonell, Bohn, & Sliger, 2001) employed the MMPI as the basis for a typology sorting offenders into 10 categories. The categories, whose names (e.g., Abel, Item, Delta, How) were assigned randomly and have no intuitive meaning, reflect patterns of MMPI scale responses. While Megargee’s typology has been subjected to extensive research regarding its ability to identify distinct groups of offenders with different behavioral characteristics, particularly with respect to prison adjustment, there is less evidence regarding its successful application to guiding treatment planning.

E. Classification of Juvenile Offenders

Classification is an important facet in the supervision of juvenile offenders, serving the same objectives—risk management and treatment planning—as it does for adult offenders. However, development of actuarial tools for juveniles has lagged behind evolution of classification tools for adult offenders. There are fewer standardized instruments for the assessment of juvenile risk and needs, and less research affirming their reliability and validity, than exists to date for adults (Hoge, 2002). Promising tools include juvenile-oriented versions of the LSI and PCL, referred to respectively as theYouth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI) and the Psychopathy Checklist–Youth Version (PCL–YV). Also available are instruments that measure specific risks, though these should be used cautiously. For example, the creators of the Juvenile Sex Offender Protocol–II (J SOAP–II) warn that adolescent populations are inherently unstable and require frequent reassessment (Prentky & Righthand, 2003).

The Jesness Inventory–Revised (JI–R) is a widely used personality assessment tool for juvenile offenders. Introduced in the 1960s, the Jesness Inventory is a 160-item, self-report questionnaire that measures the offender on each of 11 personality, 9 subtype, and 2 DSM IV–TR subscales. Personality scales include social maladjustment, value orientation, immaturity, autism, alienation, manifest aggression, withdrawal-depression, social anxiety, repression, denial, and asocial index. Subtype scales are based on integration theory, formerly known as the I-Level system. Subtype scales reflect increasing levels of perceptual complexity (i.e., the extent to which the offender views the world as threatening or supportive) and interpersonal maturity. DSM IV–TR subscales facilitate diagnosis of juveniles with conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. Preferably, the instrument is administered and scored by a clinician (Jesness, 2003).

Megargee’s MMPI-based typology is also available for juveniles, using a version of the MMPI that was normed on adolescents (MMPI–A). Also available is a version of the CMC for juveniles, called the Strategies for Juvenile Supervision (SJS).

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