Does Risk Assessment Make a Difference? Results of Implementing the SAVRY in Juvenile Probation


Gina M. Vincent, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, 55 Lake Avenue North, WSH 8B, Worcester, MA 01655. E-mail:


An effective approach to reducing recidivism is, first, to identify a youth's risk of reoffending and then to match the intensity of interventions to that risk level. This pre–post quasi-experimental, prospective study compared 247 (pre) with 217 (post) adjudicated youths to examine the implementation of the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY) and its effects on case management practices in Louisiana's Caddo parish probation office. The results indicated that placement rates dropped by 50%, use of maximum levels of supervision dropped by almost 30%, and use of community services decreased except for high-risk youths, but only after the SAVRY was properly implemented. This shift towards more appropriate allocation of resources that are matched to risk level occurred without a significant increase in reoffending. The implications for implementation and for use of risk/needs assessment in juvenile probation are discussed. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.