North carolina assessment of risk (NCAR): Reliability and predictive validity with juvenile offenders

Craig S. Schwalbe, Mark W. Fraser, Steven H. Day, Elizabeth Mayfield Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Actuarial risk assessment instruments are used increasingly in juvenile justice to classify youths according to their risk of recidivism. The purpose of this article is to describe the results of two studies of one instrument: the North Carolina Assessment of Risk (NCAR). In the first study, the inter-rater reliability of the risk assessment instrument was estimated with a sample of 175 court counselors who rated videotaped vignettes of juvenile offenders. In the second study, predictive validity was assessed prospectively by following a statewide sample of 464 delinquent youths for 12 months. Findings indicate that the risk assessment instrument increases reliability as compared to clinical judgment. Moreover, risk scores are correlated significantly with rearrest. However, analyses also show that relationships between risk scores and recidivism vary for subgroups based on gender and race/ethnicity. Though challenges remain in improving the accuracy of risk assessment, the findings suggest that actuarial assessment can be a valuable tool to support decision making in juvenile justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Offender Rehabilitation
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Delinquency
  • Gender
  • Juvenile justice
  • Race
  • Recidivism
  • Risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Law


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