An Examination of the FRST in a Correctional Mental Health Setting: Preliminary Findings

Jessica Akerman, Fordham University


The costs associated with violence risk assessments (VRA) continue to exceed the resources available to most institutions. There is also little guidance regarding how practitioners should decide who is most in need of a VRA. These realities are particularly pronounced within correctional settings where safety concerns are paramount. Therefore, there is a need to implement effective yet cost and time efficient methods to identify inmates requiring a VRA. The Fordham Risk Screening Tool (FRST) was devised to fill this gap and has demonstrated high accuracy in identifying psychiatric patients at high risk for violence. However, no research has examined the utility of the FRST within a correctional mental health setting. In the current study, the FRST was administered to 63 inmates housed in mental health units in a New York jail. Using the FRST’s core algorithm (i.e., any combination of recent and severe violent behaviors, threats, and/or thoughts) and aggregate information from the interview and record review, the tool screened out 40% of participants and correctly identified the majority (86%; 25 of 29) of those who engaged in violent misconduct over a three-month follow-up period. The variables found to be most strongly associated with FRST decision were a history of violent charge(s) and involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. More research is needed on the FRST, with the objective of using the yielded information to help practitioners allocate the scant available resources in a more objective and empirically-based manner.

Subject Area

Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Akerman, Jessica, "An Examination of the FRST in a Correctional Mental Health Setting: Preliminary Findings" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13878709.