Law and Human Behavior

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 253–271

Identifying Three Types of Violent Offenders and Predicting Violent Recidivism While on Probation: A Classification Tree Analysis


  • Loretta J. Stalans
    • Loyola University Chicago
  • Paul R. Yarnold
    • Northwestern University Medical School
  • Magnus Seng
    • Loyola University Chicago
  • David E. Olson
    • Loyola University Chicago
  • Michelle Repp
    • Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority

DOI: 10.1023/

Cite this article as:
Stalans, L.J., Yarnold, P.R., Seng, M. et al. Law Hum Behav (2004) 28: 253. doi:10.1023/


This study employs classification tree analysis (CTA) to address whether 3 groups of violent offenders have similar or different risk factors for violent recidivism while on probation. A sample of 1,344 violent offenders on probation was classified as generalized aggressors (N = 302), family only aggressors (N = 321), or nonfamily only aggressors (N = 717). The strongest predictor of violent recidivism while on probation was whether the offender was a generalized aggressor or not, with generalized aggressors more likely to be arrested for new violent crimes. Prior arrests for violent crimes predicted violent recidivism of generalized aggressors, but did not significantly predict violent recidivism of family only and nonfamily only aggressors. For generalized aggressors and family only batterers, treatment noncompliance was an important risk predictor of violent recidivism. CTA compared to logistic regression classified a higher percentage of cases into low-risk and high-risk groups, provided higher improvement in classification accuracy of violent recidivists beyond chance performance, and provided a better balance of false positives and false negatives. The implications for the risk assessment and domestic violence literature are discussed.

Copyright information

© American Psychology-Law Society/Division 41 of the American Psychology Association 2004