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Doing It Right: Risk Assessment in Juvenile Justice

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2013
4 pages
This paper briefly examines the use of risk assessments in the juvenile justice system.
This paper from the National Juvenile Justice Network briefly examines the use of risk assessments in the juvenile justice system. The paper provides a brief overview of what a risk assessment tool is, describing the difference between a brief risk assessment tool and a comprehensive risk assessment tool, and why they should be used. A risk assessment tool is used primarily to estimate the likelihood that a young person would continue delinquent behavior if nothing was done to intervene. These tools are used by jurisdictions to assist them in making evidence-based decisions regarding disposition of juvenile offender cases and to help local agencies be more cost efficient in the use of scarce justice system resources. Some of the efficiencies recognized from the use of these tools include minimizing bias for those involved in making judgements about a young person's risk to public safety, reducing costs through a more targeted approach to intervention, and reducing recidivism by making it possible to tailor case planning in order to focus services and programming for each offender. This paper also provides information on how to choose the risk assessment tool and how to implement its use.