This study examined the validity, reliability, equity, and cost of nine juvenile justice risk assessment instruments. Though many researchers and practitioners believe that risk assessment is critical to improving decision making in the juvenile justice system, the range of options currently available makes the selection of the most appropriate instrument for each jurisdiction a difficult choice. This study was designed to provide a comprehensive examination of how several risk assessments perform in practice (p. 1). Findings are reported: according to eight risk assessment instruments; and through a comparison of results across jurisdictions and assessments by way of reliability, validity, equity, revised risk assessment instruments constructed in the study, and efficiency and cost. A discussion covers: instruments developed for general use; risk instruments developed for a specific agency; and comments from Advisory Board members and responses from the authors of this report. Risk assessment should be a simple process that can be easily understood and articulated. This study’s findings show that simple, actuarial approaches to risk assessment can produce the strongest results. Adding factors with relatively weak statistical relationships to recidivism—including dynamic factors and criminogenic needs—can result in reduced capacity to accurately identify high-, moderate-, and low-risk offenders (p. vi).
“Most assessment systems target high-risk offenders. However, standard risk and needs assessments do not necessarily identify needs that are truly criminogenic for each individual; nor do they address responsivity. This is because these systems do not inherently identify either specific strategies and programs that reflect the learning style of the offender or approaches and programs most likely to motivate each offender to change behavior. This paper describes a comprehensive approach to assessment, developed by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), that successfully addresses all three objectives listed above. This methodology was originally embedded in the Client Management Classification (CMC) system and Strategies for Juvenile Supervision (SJS) assessment and supervision systems. It currently is embedded in the Correctional Assessment and Intervention System (CAIS) and Juvenile Assessment and Intervention System (JAIS) … Evaluation outcomes from six separate studies have shown that this methodology significantly reduces recidivism for both probationers and parolees and reduces institutional infractions when used in institutional settings. Results from these studies, which were conducted by different research teams in different jurisdictions across a 25-year timeframe, are summarized in this paper.” Sections included in this report are: introduction; what separates CAIS and JAIS from other assessment models; how CMC and SJS were developed; evaluations of CMC; the Texas Study, 1987; the Wisconsin Study, 1986; Council of State Governments, 2011; the emergence of CAIS and JAIS; supervision strategies; enhancing responsivity through case planning; and conclusion.