Back to top

Needs assessment

“The use of risk assessment instruments in juvenile justice systems across the country is growing rapidly. Advocates should be aware of how they can be used most effectively to avoid unnecessary incarceration and improve case planning for youth” (p. 4). This fact sheet explains: what a risk assessment tool is; the need to use them; how to choose the right risk assessment instrument; how to implement carefully following your choice; and making sure to gather and analyze data regarding the tool. For more information regarding risk assessment of juveniles, be sure to refer to “Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation” by the Models for Change Initiative (NIC accession number 027092).

Doing It Right: Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice Cover

“When your juvenile justice system puts youth on probation, does it assess them for risk? If so, do staff know how to use these assessments effectively? Or do the assessments just sit in a file, waiting to be dusted off? Whether your agency or jurisdiction is trying to choose the right risk assessment tool, or it already has one in place, you'll find this webinar from the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN) helpful.” The audience is introduced to the use of risk assessments for. The publication “Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice: A Guidebook for Implementation” (NIC accession number 027092) provides the foundation for this presentation. Issues discussed include: what is meant by “risk”; what risk assessments can and can’t accomplish; whether a risk assessments has to be separate from a needs assessment; what works in the use of risk assessments for pre-trial detention or community reentry; what policies and procedures need to be in operation before a risk assessment can be effective in a probation setting; and how a jurisdiction gets the buy-in of stakeholders in the utilization of risk assessments.

Doing it Right: Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice - an NJJN Webinar Cover

"As justice-involved individuals move through the criminal-justice system, correctional staff use case management tools to monitor progress. Case management involves monitoring individuals to ensure their completion of court-ordered sanctions, such as community service hours, payment of fees, or restitution, without reoffending. The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) also expands the definition to include evaluating and assessing the need to connect justice-involved individuals to appropriate services and resources based on their risk to reoffend.

"A new case management tool, the Employment Retention Inventory (ERI), is the focus of a study funded by the National Institute of Corrections. The study aims to: • Determine the effectiveness of the ERI in predicting job loss. • Identify and target the risk factors related to recidivism that also contribute to job loss.

"The tool and the results of the study may be useful for employment specialists working in the field of corrections, as outcomes may affect their ability to help justice-involved individuals secure and maintain long-term employment."

This fact sheet highlights what the ERI is. The ERI is being evaluated in collaboration with the Urban Institute until September 8, 2015.

Employment Retention Inventory Explores the Predictive Factors of Job Loss: Research Project cover

These presentation slides should be read before anyone begins to investigate which risk/needs instrument to use in their agency or organization. Topics covered include: prevalence of structured risk/need instruments; evaluating risk/need instruments; issues in predictive validity meta-analyses; apples and oranges—fundamentally dissimilar instruments; how instrument characteristics impact predictive validity; 12 other critical distinctions among risk/need instruments; black-and-white versus shades of gray—overreliance on binary decision making; irrelevance of binary models in criminal justice settings; burden of proof—statistical support for differences among instruments; Singh et al. (2011) comparison of nine risk/need instruments--an example of margins of error, graphical representations of predictive validity, and re-analysis; and recommendations—how to compare, select, and evaluate risk/need instruments.

Evaluating the Predictive Validity of Risk/Need Assessments: Recommendations for Correctional Agencies and Criminal Justice Researchers Cover

This two-hour training session is for correctional managers wanting to implement risk and needs assessments for adult female offenders. Participants will: become familiar with gender-responsive assessments and approaches; and receive information regarding the adoption of the Women’s Risk and Needs Assessment instrument. Topics discussed include: evidence-based practice; risk/needs assessment; gender-neutral risk assessment; women offenders; gender-responsive concepts; risk assessment validation; developing a gender-responsive risk assessment; seamless classification; and implementation considerations.

Gender Responsive Classification Instruments for Women Offenders: What Do They Look Like and How Will They Improve Practice?  Cover

The Colorado Improving Supervised Pretrial Release (CISPR) Project, an innovative pretrial initiative, is described. This article contains these sections; introduction; aims of the CISPR Project; and CISPR phases -- develop statistically validated pretrial release risk assessment instrument, match risks and interventions, educate system stakeholders, prepare documentation, assist with local implementation, and solidify progress. Phase I should last through 2008 with following phases continuing through 2009.

Improving Pretrial Assessment Cover

“The purpose of this report is to provide an understanding of intimate partner violence risk assessment tools and of the issues that assessors should consider when choosing an assessment instrument” (p. 1). It is an excellent resource for individuals looking for an introduction to the process of assessing the risk of another violent encounter by an intimate partner. The beginning of this report provides a clear description of what risk assessment and intimate partner violence are. This is followed by an explanation of how a risk assessment tool is used following a violent attack by an intimate partner. The majority of this publication is taken up by a discussion of: the types of intimate partner violence risk assessment instruments based on either unstructured clinical decision making, structured clinical judgment, actuarial approaches or other approaches involving the consultation of the victim or the use of general risk assessment tool; factors to consider when choosing a risk assessment too; and the strengths and weaknesses of these tools. An appendix presents a very nice overview of the various tools according to: structured clinical judgment tools—the Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide (SARA), the Domestic Violence Screening Inventory (DVSI), and the Danger Assessment (DA); actuarial tools—the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA), and the Domestic Violence Risk Appraisal Guise (DVRAG); and risk assessment tools for general and violent offending—the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG), and the Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R).

Intimate Partner Violence Cover

The results from a study of eight risk assessments used for determining which justice-involved youth are low-, moderate-, or high-risk for future delinquency are reviewed. Sections comprising this summary are: introduction; comparison of juvenile justice risk assessment instruments by agency, risk assessment model, and effectiveness; inter-rate reliability testing; validity and equity testing; and implications for practice. Risk assessment should be a simple process that is easily understood and articulated. This study’s findings show that simple, straightforward, actuarial approaches to risk assessment can produce the strongest results (p. 5).

NCCD Compares Juvenile Justice Risk Assessment Instruments: A Summary of the OJJDP-Funded Study Cover

"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.

Offender Risk & Needs Assessment Instruments: A Primer for Courts cover

This brief explains how pretrial risk assessments can benefit the community by improving public safety and reducing costs. Sections cover: what a pretrial risk assessment tool is; the risk factors that are on a pretrial risk assessment; why it is important to some a person’s risk level; the effectiveness of pretrial risk assessments; how pretrial risk assessments are developed; the challenges and limitations of a pretrial risk assessment; and the things criminal justice stakeholders can do to implement pretrial risk assessments.


Subscribe to Needs assessment