SPOTTING THE VIOLENT YOUNG OFFENDER IN SINGAPORE
Singh, M., Chng, J, Ng, A., Singh, K. and Tay, S., Singapore Prison Service, Singapore
The current classification of offenders for the allocation of programming is based on their index offence. We conducted a study to profile young violent offenders in Prisons Department as a first phase of research to guide the selection of offenders for the treatment programme. A battery of 5 psychological instruments - Empathy scale, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale, Criminal Sentiments Scale, Aggression Questionnaire and Self-report questionnaire was employed. We hypothesised that violent offenders would differ from non-violent offenders on the psychological characteristics measured by the instruments. Our sample consists of 158 Reformative Trainees. Several one-way between-participant Analysis of Variance (ANOVAs) were carried out with Type of Offender as the Independent variable and the scores on the instruments as Dependent variables. No significant difference was found between the two groups of offenders when index offence was used as the operational definition. A post-hoc analysis using developmental indicators of violence from the Self-report Questionnaire was conducted. It yielded 8 factors and a 'violence aggregate score' was produced with 1 point is assigned to each factor. A median split on the data categorised offenders into 'Violent' and 'Non-violent' and the one-way ANOVAs were re- run. Main effect of Type of offender on several subscales of the Aggression Questionnaire and Criminal Sentiments Scale were found significant. The limitations of using index offence for classification and the prevalence of violence as a treatment need in young offenders were discussed.