Randall T. Salekin, PhD
One of the major challenges within the juvenile justice system is tailoring psychological assessment services to the specific needs of the court. Clinicians working within the court system are frequently called upon to evaluate children and adolescents and to provide the court with recommendations regarding rehabilitation, delinquency, and transfer.
The RSTI helps the clinician to address important juvenile justice issues and to provide vital information to juvenile court judges, child and adolescent forensic psychotherapists, parole officers, and other correctional authorities for making important legal decisions. The RSTI is a semi-structured interview and rating scale designed to help clinicians assess juvenile offenders ages 9-18 years in three important areas: risk for dangerousness, sophistication-maturity, and treatment amenability. Each of these areas is measured by a scale that is composed of 15 items. Additionally, each scale contains three content areas or clusters.
- The Risk for Dangerousness scale consists of the Violent and Aggressive Tendencies, Planned and Extensive Criminality, and Psychopathic Features clusters.
- The Sophistication-Maturity scale consists of the Autonomy, Cognitive Capacities, and Emotional Maturity clusters.
- The Treatment Amenability scale consists of the Psychopathology-Degree and Type, Responsibility and Motivation to Change, and Consideration and Tolerance of Others clusters.
The RSTI materials include the Professional Manual, the semi-structured Interview Booklet, and the Rating Form. The Professional Manual provides detailed information regarding the reliability and validity of the instrument and includes six case studies that provide examples of appropriate scoring and interpretation of the results.
The questions in the 32-page Interview Booklet are designed to help obtain background, clinical, and historical information, as well as a sample of the juvenile's behavioural and psychological functioning. Optional probes are provided throughout the interview in case the juvenile gives incomplete responses. The clinician takes detailed notes throughout the interview and data collection process and uses this information when rating and scoring the inventory. The Rating Form enables the clinician to score the items by reviewing and synthesising information from the entire interview, as well as from other collateral sources (e.g., school records, police records, detention records, previous treatment records, consultations with parents/guardians). Each item is rated on a 3-point scale reflecting the extent to which the individual demonstrates the specific characteristic. Proper administration and coding of the RSTI requires considerable professional knowledge and skill with juvenile offenders.
Data for the RSTI normative sample was collected so that the sample would represent young offenders (ages 9-18 years) across a variety of juvenile justice settings. The sample included detained and non-detained youth; juveniles who were transferred to adult court; youth who remained in juvenile court; violent and non-violent offenders; and first-time and chronic offenders. Normative data are provided by gender in the Appendixes of the Professional Manual. Using these data, scale raw scores are converted to T scores and percentiles. Additionally, within each scale, the three cluster raw scores are converted to percentile ranges.
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