Elucidating the treatment needs of gang-affiliated youth offenders
Purpose - Gang affiliation is strongly associated with youth crime. Although gang prevention, intervention and suppression programmes have been used to reduce affiliation and manage youth gang-related activities, the effectiveness of these approaches is questionable. Further, comprehensive programmes supporting disengagement from gangs that also address the actual criminal behaviours of gang-affiliated youth are rare. Arguably, these are necessary if the goal of intervention is to reduce criminal behaviour and support disengagement from gangs. This paper aims to address these issues. Design/methodology/approach - This study sought to elucidate the criminogenic needs of gang- and nongang-affiliated youth offenders (n=165) using two commonly used risk/need assessment instruments, the structured assessment of violence risk in youth (SAVRY) and the youth level of service/case management inventory (YLS/CMI). Findings - The results revealed that gang- and nongang-affiliated youth offenders had similar criminogenic need profiles except for one difference on an item measuring peer delinquency. Practical implications - Gang-affiliated youth offenders have comparable criminogenic needs to other youth offenders. These needs require intervention if a reduction in crime is desired, and since gang-affiliated youth offenders are more likely to re-offend than those that are nongang-affiliated, these results also suggest that there may be additional needs, beyond those assessed by the SAVRY and YLS/CMI, which should be investigated and considered in rehabilitation programmes. Originality/value - Few studies have directly compared the risk and needs profiles between gang- and nongang-affiliated youth offenders using standardised risk assessment measures; this study may be relevant to professionals working in the juvenile justice and offender rehabilitation arenas.