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Risk needs assessment

Risk and need (RNR) assessments have been administered in the criminal justice system for decades but often have not influenced professional decision-making in intended ways. Although these assessments should improve outcomes by matching individuals to indicated services, information derived from these tools has often been ignored or has been connected to increased incarceration rates and unfair racial and ethnic disparities. For example, people classified as high risk may be more likely to be detained pretrial or to receive a jail or prison sentence, when almost no tools have been developed or validated for this purpose. Most commonly used tools were created to set community-based conditions of treatment and supervision in lieu of detention. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic and discussions around criminal justice reform, practitioners and policy makers must understand what RNR is and how it should be applied correctly to enhance both public health and public safety. This webinar seeks to define the core principles and practical application of Risk-Need-Responsivity along with strategies to create and maintain critical collaborative relationships to achieve reentry goals.

Learning Objectives: During this 90-minute webinar, participants will:

  • Understand how common fallacies and misunderstandings about RNR principles have contributed to unnecessary reliance on incarceration and links to racial and ethnic disparities
  • Learn how proper use of RNR can reduce disparities, enhance criminal justice outcomes, and contribute to effective and equitable justice reform
  • Experience a practical application of the principles in a case study of reintegrating individuals within Multnomah County, Oregon
  • Learn strategies to create and maintain collaborative relationships to achieve your jurisdiction’s reentry goals

This webinar was originally broadcast  July 21, 2021/ 11am PT / 12pm MT /1pm CT / 2pm ET for 90 minutes.

Speakers
Douglas B. Marlowe, J.D., Ph.D., is a senior scientific consultant for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) and senior science and policy advisor for Alcohol Monitoring Systems. Previously, he was the chief of science, law and policy for NADCP, the director of law and ethics research at the Treatment Research Institute, and an adjunct associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Dr. Marlowe has published over 175 journal articles, monographs, books, and book chapters on the topics of correctional rehabilitation, forensic psychology, and treatment of substance use disorders.

Erika Preuitt is the director of Multnomah County Department of Community Justice in Oregon, which provides adult and juvenile probation, pretrial release detention and parole and juvenile services. Ms. Preuitt has over twenty years of experience with the Department of Community Justice. Her core value is that people can change, and she is committed to evidence-based practices and community engagement and partnership. Ms. Preuitt is also the immediate past-president of the American Probation and Parole Association. She has served in several leadership roles in APPA.

Mack Jenkins’s career in the criminal justice system spanned four decades. Chief Jenkins retired as the chief probation officer for San Diego County, where he oversaw a department of more than 1,300 staff who provided supervision and services to more than 13,000 adults and 2,500 juveniles under supervision. During his career, Jenkins has developed expertise in the use of evidenced-based practices for community supervision, implemented special supervision programs for people with domestic violence and sex crime convictions, and managed reentry programs for justice-involved juveniles. He has more than 20 years of experience working in drug courts and collaborative justice programs. While chief in San Diego, he chaired both the San Diego County Community Corrections Partnership and the Juvenile justice Coordinating Council.

 

No program or intervention can be expected to work for everyone. Providing too much or the wrong kind of services not only fails to improve outcomes, but it can make outcomes worse by placing excessive burdens on some participants and interfering with their engagement in productive activities, like work or school. This is the foundation for a body of evidence-based principles referred to as risk, need, responsivity, or RNR (Andrews & Bonta, 2010). RNR is derived from decades of research demonstrating that the best outcomes are achieved in the criminal justice system when (1) the intensity of criminal justice supervision is matched to participants’ risk for criminal recidivism or likelihood of failure in rehabilitation (criminogenic risk) and (2) interventions focus on the specific disorders or conditions that are responsible for participants’ crimes (criminogenic needs) (Andrews et al., 1990, 2006; Gendreau et al., 2006; Lipsey & Cullen, 2007; Lowenkamp et al., 2006a, 2006b; Smith et al., 2009; Taxman & Marlowe, 2006). Moreover, mixing participants with different levels of risk or need in the same treatment groups or residential programs has been found to increase crime, substance use, and other undesirable outcomes, because it exposes low-risk participants to antisocial peers and values (e.g., Lloyd et al., 2014; Lowenkamp & Latessa, 2004; Lowenkamp et al., 2005; Welsh & Rocque, 2014; Wexler et al., 2004).

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. 

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