Characteristics of the mentally retarded adolescent offender and their implications for residential treatment design


  • George C. Denkowski,

    Corresponding author
    1. Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation (Fort Worth State School) and The Research Insitute, Fort Worth, Texas 76109
    • 4320 Bellaire Drive South, Fort Worth, TX 76109
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  • Kathryn M. Denkowski

    1. Texas Christian University and The Research Institute, Fort Worth, Texas 76109
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  • The opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of their respective institutional affiliations.


While numerous residential programs for mentally retarded adolescent offenders have been established throughout this country, no empirically-based population characteristics have been compiled which are sufficient to guide their systematic design. This study assessed 65 such young offenders along various treatment-relevant dimensions, and used the resultant data to portray an average, hypothetical youth. Based on that profile, a compatible habilitation model was derived. It was concluded that a basic point economy, augmented by timeout procedures and supported by a secure (locked) setting, seems to be a viable approach for initiating treatment with these youth. Thereafter, programming should continue in a nonsecure group home, and finally, on an outpatient basis, in the generic community service system.