Juvenile, risk assessment, predictive validity, risk principle


In recent years, there has been increased reliance on the use of risk assessment in the juvenile justice system to predict and classify offenders based on their risk to reoffend. Over the years, the predictive validity of risk assessments has improved through the inclusion of actuarial assessment and dynamic risk factors. The predictive validity of certain assessments, such as the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI), has been well established through numerous replication studies on different subgroups of the population. The validity of other instruments, such as the Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT), is in its infancy having only been validated on the sample of the population for which it was created. The PACT, a relatively new juvenile risk assessment tool, was adapted from the Washington State Juvenile Court Assessment and validated on the Florida juvenile population. This study sought to demonstrate the predictive validity of the PACT risk assessment, analyze gender differences in juvenile recidivism, and determine the relative importance of individual-level, social-level, and community-level variables in the prediction of recidivism for a sample of juveniles in Tarrant County, Texas. The results of this research confirmed the predictive validity of the PACT for juveniles served by Tarrant County Juvenile Services (TCJS). Despite possessing adequate predictive validity for the entire population, gender-specific analyses revealed differences in the ability of the PACT to accurately classify female delinquents based on risk to reoffend. Not only did gender differences emerge in the predictive validity of the PACT, but males and female recidivism was also predicted by different social-level indicators. The results of this research provided further evidence for social-causation theories of crime and delinquency, with sociallevel indicators exerting the strongest relationship with recidivism when compared to individual- iii level and community-level predictors. The inability of community-level predictors to enhance the predictive accuracy of the assessment suggest broad application of the PACT across jurisdictions. TCJS has invested a considerable amount of time, resources, and funding in the implementation and maintenance of the PACT. The results of this study provided support and direction for the continued use of the PACT at TCJS. In addition, establishing the predictive validity of the PACT on the Tarrant County juvenile population satisfied the legislative requirement for a population specific validation of the risk assessment implemented in each county.


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Graduation Date





Wan, Thomas T. H.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Health and Public Affairs

Degree Program

Public Affairs








Release Date

May 2013

Length of Campus-only Access

1 year

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Health and Public Affairs, Health and Public Affairs -- Dissertations, Academic