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The Use of the SAVRY and YLS/CMI in Adolescent Court Proceedings: A Case Law Review

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Despite the continued growth of adolescent risk assessment tools, we do not know how these tools are being used in adolescent court cases or how this information influences legal decision making. To address this gap, we reviewed 50 Canadian, American, and international adolescent offender cases using the Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth or Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory. The results confirm that adolescent risk assessment tools are primarily introduced during sentencing or adult transfer proceedings. Judges identified the specific risk and protective factors of youth in 36.2% and 19.0% of cases, respectively. In terms of legal decision making, the risk assessment was either directly or indirectly referred to in 76.0% of cases; however, judges most often placed some weight on the risk assessment as a part of an enumerated list of other important factors. Although risk assessments were generally considered admissible in these cases, some legal concerns were raised, particularly with the use of risk assessments to guide sentencing decisions.
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