Demystifying Risk Assessment: Key Principles and Controversies 2017
Sarah Picard-Fritsche, Michael Rempel, Jennifer A. Tallon, Julian Adler and Natalie Reyes. 2017, Center for Court Innovation, pp. 1-30.
This paper explains the science underlying risk-based decision-making and explores both the promise and controversies associated with the increasing application of “big data” to the field of criminal justice. While the technology has contributed to important policy reforms, such as the diversion of low-risk groups from jail and prison, debate has arisen over the potential for risk assessments to reproduce existing racial biases, the lack of transparency of some proprietary tools, and the challenge of applying classifications based on group behavior to individual cases. Along with identifying an emerging professional consensus that the careful and ethical implementation of risk assessment tools can improve outcomes, the paper closes with a series of best practices urging jurisdictions to adopt a localized, collaborative approach.
The Most Carefully Studied, yet Least Understood, Terms in the Criminal Justice Lexicon: Risk, Need, Responsivity
Douglas B. Marlowe. July 17, 2018, Policy Research Associates (PRA).
Despite compelling evidence validating these RNR principles, many behavioral health and criminal justice professionals misconstrue the concepts of risk, need, and responsivity, leading them to deliver the wrong services to the wrong persons and in the wrong order. Even with the best of intentions to follow evidence-based practices, many programs inadvertently waste precious resources, frustrate consumers, and deliver lackluster results. To enhance program effectiveness and efficiency, it is necessary to translate these research-based principles into terms that are familiar to many practitioners, to help them select the most appropriate interventions under the right circumstances. [To aid in this process, a glossary of technical terms used in this article is provided in Table 1].
Risk and Needs Assessment in the Criminal Justice System
This document provides a high-level overview of risk and needs assessment and can be used to form talking points or used as a handout for students to improve their understanding of the risk and needs principle, the types of instruments that can be used, and what they do. It was prepared for members of committees of Congress by the Congressional Research Services.
Risk and Needs Assessment
A statement enacted in March 2015 by the American Probation and Parole Association regarding the use of risk and needs assessments to predicate recidivism.
Risk Assessment Instruments Validated and Implemented in Correctional Settings in the United States
A report designed to provide foundational knowledge and a working framework of risk assessment instruments for criminal justice and social service agencies, practitioners, and policymakers.
The Risk Need Responsivity Model of Offender Rehabilitation: Is There Really a Need for a Paradigm Shift? – 2013
Jan Looman and Jeffrey Abracen. 2013, International Journal of Behavioral Consultation and Therapy, v. 8 n. 3-4, pp. 30-36.
The current paper critically reviews the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) and Good Lives Model (GLM) approaches to correctional treatment. Research, or the lack thereof, is discussed in terms of whether there is a need for a new model of offender rehabilitation. We argue that although there is a wealth of research in support of RNR approaches, there is presently very little available research demonstrating the efficacy of the GLM in terms of the impact that programs based on this model of rehabilitation have on observed rates of recidivism among offender populations.
Polaschek, Devon L.L. An Appraisal of the Risk'-Need-Responsivity (RNR) Model of Offender Rehabilitation and Its Application in Correctional Treatment. 2012,
Legal and Criminological Psychology, v. 17, pp. 1-17.
The RNR (risk-need-responsivity) model is evaluated. This article discusses: what the RNR model is; contextualizing the RNR model as a rehabilitation framework; model appraisal criteria; strengths; weaknesses; knowledge transfer issues; and future directions. '[A]lthough the RNR model's empirical validity and practical utility justify its place as the dominant model, it is not the 'last word' on offender rehabilitation; there is much work still to be done' (p. 1). (NIC Information Center has a copy)
The Principles of Effective Interventions
Research supports several principles for effective offender interventions. NIC highlights eight principles in its "Evidence-Based Policy and Practice" initiative. They are listed below in developmental sequence.