Predicting Offenders’ Institutional Misconduct and Recidivism: The Utility of Behavioral Ratings by Prison Officers [2018]

Measures of current behavior are rarely incorporated into risk assessment. Therefore, the current study used a behavior rating scale to assess prison officers’ observations of inmates prison behavior and examined the contribution of these ratings for risk assessment. Prison officers rated 272 sexual and violent offenders in three different correctional treatment facilities in Berlin, Germany. Factor analysis revealed three psychologically meaningful factors measuring externalizing, internalizing and adaptive prison behavior. The construct validity of the three factors was established through correlational analyses with standardized risk assessment instruments. Externalizing and internalizing behaviors were significant predictors of violent recidivism after release. In addition, externalizing was a significant predictor of institutional misconduct, whereas adaptive and internalizing behavior predicted whether an inmate was granted privileges (e.g., minimum-security confinement). Logistic regression analyses indicated that externalizing behavior ratings added incrementally to the Level of Service Inventory-Revised for the prediction of institutional misconduct and violent recidivism. The results indicate that prison officers observe important prison behaviors and that behavioral ratings can improve risk assessment.

Joscha Hausam, Robert J. B. Lehmann and Klaus-Peter Dahle
Frontiers in Psychiatry, 10 December 2018