Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Gyda Swaney

Commitee Members

Michael Scolatti, Laura Kirsch, Paul Silverman, Jennifer Waltz, Theodore Van Alst, Jr.


American Indian, Native American, recidivism, reentry, resilience, risk


University of Montana


Background: According to a 2014 report, approximately 1 in 100 American adults are incarcerated, which represents a 500% increase over the past 40 years and accounts for the largest population of prisoners in the world. Despite research that suggests incarceration is not an effective deterrent for crime, incarceration continues to increase at a historically unprecedented rate. Mass incarceration disproportionately affects communities of color. In Montana, Native Americans are overrepresented at all levels of the correctional system. In addition, Native American ex-offenders are just over twice as likely as non-Native Americans to recidivate and be returned to a correctional institution, mostly for technical violations. Many of these technical violations could be due to an invalid risk assessment that places them in higher or lower risk categories than the risk they actually pose for re-offense. There is a general lack of research regarding the predictive ability for general risk assessment with Native American offenders, and the research that is available is mixed. The Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) is one of the most widely used recidivism risk assessments. Studies have shown low to moderate predictive ability for the LSI-R in Native American offender populations. Critics have argued that Native American offenders have culturally-specific risk and resiliency factors that are not captured by current risk assessment tools. Method: This study utilized de-identified archival data collected in partnership with the Flathead Reservation Reentry Program (FRRP). Participants included 166 federally recognized adult male (n = 101, 60%) and female (n = 65, 40%) tribal members who were criminally involved and currently living on or planning to return to the Flathead Reservation upon release from a correctional facility. Intake data was collected from February 2016 through February 2017. Outcome data, collected until February 2018, included any new charge that resulted in a conviction for up to one year from the participant’s intake date. Results: Hierarchical Binary logistic regression analysis showed that culturally-specific factors (i.e., Historical Loss Scale, Historical Loss Associated Symptoms Scale, and the Cultural Connectedness Scale) predicted recidivism over and above the offender’s risk level, as determined by the LSI-R. Additionally, ROC analysis (AUC = .65) and scale reliability (Cronbach’s alpha = .48) found poor utility for the LSI-R within the present Native American sample. Post-hoc analysis identified education/employment, family/marital discord, and anger/avoidance from the Historical Loss Associated Symptom Scale as risk factors and frequent thoughts about historical loss, increased cultural connection (specifically increased cultural participation) as resiliency factors. Discussion: These results begin to address the gap in recidivism research on risk assessment of Native American offenders and illustrate the need for inclusion of culturally specific factors in risk assessment with Native American offenders.


© Copyright 2018 Ciara Dawn Hansen