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Using the VRAG to predict institutional misconduct In female versus male inmates

20 July 2012


The ability to accurately predict the risk of institutional misconduct among offenders is critical to any effort to establish an appropriate prison classification system and to any effort to maintain a safe and orderly prison system. Despite this fact, there have been relatively few measures and studies designed to assist prisons and jails with the daunting task of determining which inmates are most likely to engage in institutional misconduct. Even fewer still have been designed to assess the likelihood of institutional misconduct among female inmates. Indeed, no violence risk assessment instrument has ever been developed with, or normed on, female inmates. This study was designed to assess the ability of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG; Quinsey, Harris, Rice, & Cormier, 1998)—which was developed and normed on men but is frequently used to assess risk among both male and female inmates—to predict institutional misconduct among first time female inmates. The results of this study indicate that the VRAG demonstrated only small to moderate discriminant validity when used to predict misconduct among both male and female inmates. Further, while VRAG total scores and VRAG risk bin categories were significantly related to the incidence of general misconduct and the incidence of major misconduct among male inmates, they were not significantly related to incidence of misconduct among female inmates, regardless of whether the misconduct is categorized as major or minor misconduct. Overall, the results of this study indicate that the VRAG is not a highly effective tool for use in predicting misconduct among female inmates.


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