Incorporating Procedural Justice and Legitimacy into the RNR Model to Improve Risk-Need Assessment

Authored by: Katherine Ginsburg Kempany , Kimberly A. Kaiser

Handbook on Risk and Need Assessment

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138927766
eBook ISBN: 9781315682327
Adobe ISBN:


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The Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model suggests that the risks and needs of offenders should be considered when developing strategies to promote compliance and long-term behavioral change (Bonta & Andrews, 2007). While this model includes criminogenic risk factors such as antisocial values, criminal identities, and other changeable attitudes, this chapter argues that the model could be enhanced by the inclusion of perceptions of legitimacy of criminal justice authorities as a need factor. Research has demonstrated that an individuals’ perception of legitimacy of the law generally—as well as legitimacy of specific criminal justice agencies and institutions—is associated with behavioral compliance (Tyler, 2003; 2006). Relatedly, research suggests that focusing on procedural justice in interactions with offenders is an important way in which criminal justice organizations can influence perceptions of legitimacy and, therefore, encourage compliance (Tyler, 2006). Extending this association into the area of corrections, we would expect that when correctional staff exert their authority in a way that is perceived as fair, just, and neutral, offenders will be more likely to comply with case plans, supervisory conditions, and may ultimately lead to long-term desistance from offending (e.g., Reisig & MeŇ°ko, 2009; Tyler, Sherman, Strang, Barnes, & Woods, 2007).

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