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Warren, Roger K.

The reduction of recidivism by state judiciaries utilizing six principles of evidence-based practice (EBP) is explained. Seven sections follow an executive summary: introduction; current state sentencing policies and their consequences; drug courts -- the state judiciary's successful experiment with EBP; the principles of EBP; local sentencing and corrections policy reforms; state sentencing and corrections policy reforms; and conclusion. "[C]arefully targeted rehabilitation and treatment programs can reduce offender recidivism by conservative estimates of 10-20%" (p. 72).

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"Practitioners use risk assessment information to inform decisions at various points in the criminal justice system. The Primer is written for judges, policy makers, and other practitioners interested in the use of RNA [risk and needs assessment] information at sentencing for the purpose of informing community corrections related decisions regarding management and reduction of offender recidivism risk. It focuses on RNA instruments designed specifically to inform these community corrections-related decisions" (p. 2). This publication explains: what risk and needs assessment instruments are, and reasons for using them; examples of six risk and needs assessment instruments and how they differ; what the qualities of good risk and needs assessment instruments are; the practices which support sound implementation of risk and needs assessment instruments; and the practical considerations in selecting and using risk and needs assessment instruments. An appendix provides profiles of risk and needs assessment instruments.

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"RNA [risk and needs assessment] instruments are actuarial tools designed to inform community corrections-related decisions regarding risk management and reduction. They consist, in part, of static factors such as criminal history and age at first offense which are related to recidivism but cannot be altered through the delivery of services or treatment programs. In addition, and more importantly for recidivism reduction purposes, the tools identify dynamic risk factors (sometimes referred to as criminogenic needs) such as antisocial attitudes and antisocial peer groups that also are related to recidivism but can be addressed through services and treatment programs. Information from these tools assists in identifying specific offender risk factors that can be targeted with services and treatment programs in order to help reduce an offender’s likelihood of reoffending … Several jurisdictions now provide RNA information to the court to inform sentencing decisions as part of a broader evidence-based approach to effective risk management and recidivism reduction … The current report synthesizes the information across the ten jurisdictions and provides examples of how and the degree to which jurisdictions have implemented each of the nine guiding principles" (p. 1, 2, 3). Sections comprising this report are: Introduction; Guiding Principle 1: Public Safety/Risk Management Purpose; Guiding Principle 2: Amenability to Probation; Guiding Principle 3: Effective Conditions of Probation and Responses to Violations; Guiding Principle 4: Stakeholder Training; Guiding Principle 5: Availability and Routine Use of Offender Assessments; Guiding Principle 6: Evidence-Based Infrastructure; Guiding Principle 7: Assessment Instruments; Guiding Principle 8: Assessment Reports; Guiding Principle 9: Monitoring and Evaluation.; The Way Forward: Judicial Leadership and Lessons Learned; Conclusion; and Appendix: Jurisdiction Profiles. This report is accompanies "Using Offender Risk and Needs Assessment Information at Sentencing: Guidance for Courts from a National Working Group" - NICIC accession no. 026663.

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