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Finding an answer in time: Assessing change in needs scores on time to recidivism among justice-involved youth

NCJ Number
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 90 Dated: 2024
Date Published

The authors seek to examine how changes in needs scores at reassessment influence youths’ time-to-recidivism; after a review of literature, the authors lay out their research methodology, results, and present their conclusions.


While risk instruments are consistently used to aid classification and supervision decisions, needs assessments guide intervention efforts for individuals under supervision. At the core of the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) model and the General Personality and Cognitive Social Learning (GPCSL) theory, dynamic needs scoring allows agencies to identify change in needs over time. Yet, few studies have assessed the potential impact of changes among needs items. To overcome this limitation, the current study assesses how needs score change may influence recidivism propensity among youth. Using multi-level frailty models, the current study examines how changes in youth needs assessment scores influence time-to-recidivism among a large, multi-state sample of justice-involved youth assessed with the Modified Positive Achievement Change Tool (MPACT). Findings demonstrate that youth with increased needs scores and those that remained the same at reassessment had a greater propensity for recidivism, compared to those that decreased scores. Policy implications identify the effectiveness of the MPACT in measuring youth change, its utility for case management, and the needs domains most associated with recidivism reductions. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2024