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Recent Past and Near Future of Risk and/or Need Assessment

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: 52 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2006 Pages: 7-27
D. A. Andrews; James Bonta; J. Stephen Wormith
Date Published
January 2006
21 pages
This article reviews the history of the principles, risk and/or need assessment, and the future progress with the advent of the fourth generation (4G) of offender assessment, the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) within the field of criminal justice.
Overall, it is recommended to continue systematic exploration of the domains of interpersonal and/or cognitive maturity, gender, and ethnicity and/or culture as responsivity issues. Specific responsivity assessment has a history in corrections with many promising leads. However, understanding the interactions of offender and treatment characteristics remains a high priority. The existing personality-based systems need to be analyzed according to the elements of risk, need, and responsivity. The promise of fourth generation (4G) assessments is that linkages among assessment and programming and of each with reassessments, and ultimate outcome will be rewarding in theory and practice. The 4G assessment instruments promote good planning and delivery. They enhance clinical supervision of direct contact staff members. The 4G instruments will have a dramatic impact on the development and successful implementation of risk-need-responsivity (RNR). It is suggested that agency adoption of RNR is rewarded by enhanced public protection. The history of risk assessment in criminal justice has been researched many times. This article assesses progress since 1990 of the human service principles of RNR and professional discretion. Here, corrections-based terms of risk and need are transformed into principles addressing the major clinical issues of who receives treatment, what intermediate targets are set, and what treatment strategies are employed. Specific responsivity suggests matching the service with personality, motivation, and ability, as well as with demographics. This article reviews the advent of the fourth generation of offender assessment which guides and follows service and supervision from intake through case closure. The major goal of 4G systems is to strengthen adherence with the principles of effective treatment and to facilitate clinical supervision devoted to enhance public protection form recidivistic crime. Tables, references