Exploring How to Measure Criminogenic Needs

Five Instruments and No Real Answers

Authored by: Brittney Via , Amy Dezember , Faye S. Taxman

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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Third and fourth generation risk and need assessment (RNA) tools introduced the use of dynamic risk factors to improve the predictive validity of the tools, to identify contemporary factors that influence behavior, and to inform supervision level, case planning and treatment placements. Often RNA tools are used by reentry, community corrections, and other justice agencies to determine risk level and the type of supervision an individual receives. The primary innovation of the third and fourth generation tools is the inclusion of malleable factors that, if addressed, can adjust a person’s likelihood of further involvement in the justice system. This innovation was built on the premise that static factors are unchangeable issues (i.e. they reflect a person’s past), such as criminal history, which neglect characteristics of the person’s present situation. Prior research has generally identified the features of current behavior, attitudes, or situational factors that are related to recidivism, and thus it is important to include such factors in a risk assessment. Essentially, understanding and addressing dynamic, malleable factors are important for reducing recidivism and therefore are important to the measurement of risk for recidivism. However, the literature on RNA tools questions the usefulness of dynamic factors in predicting risk for recidivism (see Brame, 2017.; Rogan, 2017.; Rudes, Viglione, & Meyer, 2017.; Baird, 2009; Austin, 2006; Taxman, 2006).

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