Risk & Needs Assessment

“Protective Factors in Risk Assessment Schemes for Adolescents in Mental Health and Criminal Justice Populations: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of their Predictive Efficacy.” 

Dickens, Geoffrey L. and O’Shea, Lauren E. (June 2017). Adolescent Research Review.  Accessed June 27, 2017

Study Abstract: The consideration of protective factors has been integrated into a number of instruments whose aim is assess the risk of adverse outcomes among adolescents in high-risk mental health and criminal justice populations; however, little is known about their contribution to accurate risk prediction. We systematically reviewed the evidence for predictive efficacy of nine selected tools that require assessors to consider protective factors. Three tools had been tested for predictive ability but only one (the structured assessment of violence risk in youth) had been examined in multiple studies. Meta-analysis revealed that risk prediction based on the results did not improve over that based on a deficits model. Important decisions based on results of some protective factor-based tools should be treated with extreme caution since they lack empirical support. The importance of protective factors in problematic behavior has been demonstrated elsewhere, but this has not translated into significantly improved tools for use in clinical risk assessment in mental health and criminal justice populations.

“Developing and Validating Risk Assessment Instruments for Justice Agencies.”

Baird, Chris. National Council on Crime and Delinquency. February 13, 2017.

Brief Abstract: This brief explored the research behind many current models, discusses methods commonly used to measure “predictive power,” and outlines what is required to measure the efficacy of various approaches to the risk assessment.

Chicago’s Experimenting Policing Tool is Hurting the People It’s Supposed to be Helping.

Smith IV, Jack. TechMic. August 17, 2016. Accessed August 19, 2016.

Abstract/Summary: Chicago’s experimental Strategic Subject List didn't help the Chicago Police Department keep its subjects away from violent crime nor enable them to receive more social services; instead, the only noticeable difference it made was that people on the list ended up arrested more often.

"Risk Assessment: Enhancing Offender Success and Protecting Public Safety.”

The Chief Probation Officers of California. CPOC Issue Brief, Spring 2016.

Summary: Risk Assessment plays a critical role for adult probationers in California (70% of adults convicted of felonies receive probation in the state). It assists probationers with re-integration into society, helps probation departments where to best pool resources, and reduce recidivism while strengthening public safety. The report looks at six specific risk assessment tools: STRONG, SNRA, CAIS, COMPAS, LS-CMI, and ORAS.

"Evidence-Based Decision Making: Victim Service Provider User’s Guide.”

National Institute of Corrections’ Initiative and the Center for Effective Public Policy.

April 14, 2015. Accessed August 23, 2016. 

Summary: This guide prepares and assists Victim Service Providers (VSPs) to become part of an Evidence-Based Decision Making (EBDM) policy team. The guide provides: A rationale for VSPs to become involved with the policy team; an examination of the benefits that can accrue from the participation of VSPs in the EBDM process; a description of how VSPs can become part of the EBDM process and how the EBDM principles apply to their work; an exploration of common interests and potential challenges and barriers that VSPs and criminal justice system stakeholders collectively face while engaging in this work, and possible solutions; a link to a primer on EBP and EBDM; a brief overview of why it is important to victims for VSPs to understand the purpose and use of risk/needs assessment tools, a critical component of EBP and EBDM; and  Links and references to other information and resources that can help VSPs to educate themselves about becoming part of EBDM policy teams and to conduct evaluations of their own programs.

Back to the Future: The Influence of Criminal History on Risk Assessment

Hamilton, Melissa. (January 26, 2015). Berkeley Journal of Criminal Law (Forthcoming)

University of Houston Law Center No. 2015-A-A. Accessed 5, August 2016.

Abstract/Summary: Criminal history has a role to play in future risk judgments, but other issues (such as counting the same criminal conduct numerous times, factoring non-adjudicated and acquittals, disciplining future hypothetical crimes, and punishing status) must also be considered. 

Data-Driven Decision Making for Strategic Justice Reinvestment

Dwyer Allison, Neusteter S. Rebecca, and Lachman Pamela.  The Urban Institute.

June 4, 2012. Accessed August 23, 2016.

Abstract/Summary: This publication is one of three policy briefs designed to guide local policymakers in undertaking justice reinvestment, a data-driven strategy to identify the drivers of criminal justice system costs and make more efficient use of resources while maintaining public safety. This brief discusses the central role of strategic planning entities in the justice reinvestment process; outlines how these bodies are structured and operated; and provides guidance in establishing or expanding such a collaborative. 

The Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) Model Does Adding the Good Lives Model Contribute to Effective Crime Prevention?

Andrews, Donald, Bonta, James, & Wormith, Stephen. (June 2011)

Criminal Justice and Behavior 38(7):735-755, accessed Aug. 18, 2016.

Abstract/Summary: the study acknowledges that the Risks-Needs-Responsivity Model (RNR) is “widely regarded as the premier model for guiding offender assessment and treatment.” Recently, however, the good lives model (GLM) has been promoted as an alternative and enhancement to RNR. GLM sets itself apart from RNR by its positive, strengths-based, and restorative model of rehabilitation. In addition, GLM hypothesizes that enhancing personal fulfillment will lead naturally to reductions in criminogenic needs.

State of the Science of Pretrial Risk Assessment.

Mamalian, Cynthia A.  Pretrial Justice Institute. March 2011. Accessed August 23, 2016.

Summary: This publication is designed for a wide-ranging audience of criminal justice stakeholders who have questions about pretrial risk assessment and its value to the pretrial justice process. The first section provides a brief review of the history and current state of pretrial justice. The second section looks at critical issues related to pretrial release, detention, and risk assessment. The third section discusses challenges to implementing evidence-based risk assessment and threats to reliable administration, including time constraints and practicality of the risk assessment instrument, money bail schedules, local capacity, subjective risk assessment, and court culture and judicial behavior. The fourth section outlines methodological challenges associated with the prediction of risk. The final section provides recommendations for research and practice. 

“Identification of low risk of violent crime in severe mental illness with a clinical prediction tool (Oxford Mental Illness and Violence Tool[OxMIV]:a derividation and validation study” 

Fazel, Seema et al. (May 4, 2007). The Lancet Psychiatry Journal Volume 4, No. 6 p 461-468. Accessed June 27, 2017 


Study Summary: Current approaches to stratify patients with psychiatric disorders into groups on the basis of violence risk are limited by inconsistency, variable accuracy, and unscalability. To address the need for a scalable and valid tool to assess violence risk in patients with schizophrenia spectrum or bipolar disorder, we describe the derivation of a score based on routinely collected factors and present findings from external validation

Understanding the Risk Principle: How and Why Correctional Interventions Can Harm Low-Risk Offenders.

Lowencamp, C.T. and Latessa, E.J. (2004).

Topics in Community Corrections. Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections. Accessed August 15, 2016.

Abstract/Summary: The article discusses the risk principle, what the risk principle means for corrections, and why it may not be ideal for low-risk offenders.

Predictive Analytics and Risk Assessment: A Logical Response to Intimate Partner Homicide.

Lee E. Ross (2017), Predictive Analytics and Risk Assessment: A Logical Response to Intimate Partner Homicide. Int J Cri & For Sci. 1:1, 1-3. Accessed March 7, 2018

Summary: The article notes key risk factors in intimate partner homicide including: attempted strangulation, stalking, and threats with weapons and notes that “justice practitioners can conduct a risk assessment in either injunction proceedings, the time of arrests, prior to bail decisions, or when developing safety plans for victims fleeing abusive relationships.” The author also explores types of risk assessments and the case for predictive analysis.

Risk Assessment in Sentencing

Monahan, John. (August 22, 2017). Academy for Justice, a Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform (Erik Luna ed., 2017, Forthcoming).; Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-44. Accessed March 8, 2018 

Abstract: One way to reduce mass incarceration and the fiscal and human sufferings intrinsic to it is to engage in a morally constrained form of risk assessment in sentencing offenders. The assessment of an offender’s risk of recidivism was once a central component of criminal sentencing in the United States. In the mid-1970s, however, sentencing based on forward-looking assessments of offender risk was abolished in many jurisdictions in favor of set periods of confinement based solely on backward-looking appraisals of offender blameworthiness. This situation is rapidly changing, however. After a hiatus of 40 years, there has been a resurgence of interest in risk assessment in criminal sentencing. Across the political spectrum, advocates have proposed that mass incarceration can be shrunk without simultaneously jeopardizing the historically low crime rate if we put a morally constrained form of risk assessment back into sentencing.