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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D.(Cermak Health Services)
Description: The book covers the importance of mental health screening and assessment in juvenile justice facilities. The numbers of juveniles in these facilities are increasing so this is an important topic to deal with, especially given that so many adolescents have mental health needs.
Purpose: According to the editors, "two undeniable components in that mandate have arisen as clear obligations for the juvenile justice system. One is the obligation to identify mental health needs among youths in its custody. The other is to develop emergency systems of care-strategies for emergency mental health services, diversion, and collaboration with mental health agencies-to respond to youths' mental health needs as they enter the system, and to blend necessary mental health treatment with other delinquency rehabilitation programming for mentally disordered youths who remain in custody because of their serious delinquency. This book is aimed at assisting the juvenile justice system to fulfill these new mandates by providing effective mental health screening and assessment of youths as they enter the juvenile justice system." The book meets these ver worthy objectives.
Audience: According to the editors, the book "has been written for a wide range of juvenile justice personnel: administrators, program managers, mental health professionals who consult to juvenile justice settings, policymakers (e.g. legislators and federal or state juvenile justice planners), and judges and lawyers involved in juvenile justice endeavors. This audience includes students in training for any of these roles." The authors are very credible authorities. Dr. Grisso is Professor of Psychiatry, Director of Psychology, and Coordinator of the Law and Psychiatry Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Vincent is Assistant Professor in the Law and Psychiatry Program in the Department of Psychiatry at the same institution. Dr. Seagrave is a clinical psychologist who holds a Diplomate in Forensic Psychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology. All have extensive experience with forensic evaluations in the juvenile justice system.
Features: The book is composed of two main parts: 1) the importance of screening and assessing individuals entering the juvenile justice system and 2) evaluating various screening and assessment tools. Part one is wonderfully written and gives a passionate argument for why the screening and assessment process is necessary. Chapter two is a prime example of how good this book really is because it provides the rationale for a developmental perspective, not just considering the juveniles as young adults. These factors include: age relativity, discontinuity, comorbidity, and demographic differences. This chapter was enlightening, to say the least. Part two evaluates various screening and assessment tools on the following levels: purpose, basic description, history of the methods' development, research evidence, application, and case example. It is very thorough and the reader can come away with a good understanding of each instrument, both its strengths and weaknesses. The case examples are extremely helpful.
Assessment: This is the book to buy if you work in the juvenile justice system. It addresses mental health assessment and screening in a comprehensive manner. The editors and contributors provide poignant rationale for the process and then describe the actual instruments. The book really is complete in itself. It is easy to read and informative. I give it my highest recommendation.