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Guidelines for Post-Sentencing Risk Assessment

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2021
54 pages
Kristofer Bret Bucklen; Grant Duwe; Faye S. Taxman

This National Institute of Justice-supported white paper examines risk and needs assessment instruments for post-sentencing decision-making in correctional systems.


Risk and needs assessment (RNA) tools are used within corrections to prospectively identify those who have a greater risk of offending, breaking laws or rules of prison or jail, and/or violating the conditions of community supervision. Correctional authorities use RNA instruments to guide a host of decisions that are, to a large extent, intended to enhance public safety and make better use of scarce resources. Despite the numerous ways in which RNA instruments can improve correctional policy and practice, the style and type of RNA currently used by much of the field has yet to live up to this promise because it is outdated, inefficient, and less effective than it should be. This paper aims to help the corrections field realize the potential that RNA instruments have for improving decision-making and reducing recidivism.

Date Created: April 5, 2021