|Prediction and Risk - Needs Assessment|
|By The National Institute of Justice and The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention|
This bulletin discusses our ability to predict whether a young adult will commit crimes based on information available from his or her juvenile years and reviews assessment tools used to make these predictions.
Predicting and Assessing Risk
Predicting the onset of criminal activity and whether it will persist depends on the early identification of serious and violent individuals and the risks, needs and protective factors that facilitate such identification:
Decisions with longer term impact, such as disposition, case planning and management, call for an assessment of the individual’s criminogenic needs as well as risk and protective factors.
Standardized Assessment Tools
A number of standardized and validated procedures have been developed to help practitioners collect and synthesize information about an individual and thus yield estimates of the individual’s risks and needs. Several types of procedures are available:
Comparing Risk Assessment Tools
Twelve standardized instruments used in assessing risk — six applicable to youth and six to adults — are reviewed at length in Bulletin 4: Prediction and Risk/Needs Assessment (NCJ 242934), available at http://www.ncjrs.gov. Studies that compared the aggregate predictive validity of various actuarial and structured professional judgment tools indicated that neither approach has a definitive, consistent advantage in predicting who will reoffend.
Tools developed to assess risk and predict later offending among offending populations have progressed to where they are useful to the criminal and juvenile justice communities. Whether these tools maintain their predictive accuracy during different developmental periods, however, is unknown.
To address this gap, researchers conducted a preliminary investigation into the validity of tools for assessing risk at different periods between late adolescence and early adulthood (18 to 29 years). They found that tools demonstrating accurate predictive validity maintain that accuracy regardless of the developmental period in which reoffending occurred. For young offenders who were first assessed during adolescence, risk assessment tools predicted reoffending during early adulthood at least as well as during adolescence. In addition, adult risk assessment tools conducted during early adulthood adequately predicted reoffending during this period.
Implications for Policy and Practice The research provides some important guidelines for practitioners and policymakers:
Points of view or opinions expressed in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of NIJ, OJJDP, or the U.S. Department of Justice.
This publication summarizes Bulletin 4: Prediction and Risk/Needs Assessment by Robert D. Hoge, Gina Vincent and Laura Guy, NCJ 242934, available at NCJRS.gov. Bulletin 4 is one in a series of bulletins prepared for Transitions From Juvenile to Adult: Papers From the Study Group on Transitions From Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Crime. The study group was led by David Farrington and Rolf Loeber under award number 2008-IJ-CX-K402; to learn more, visit NIJ.gov, keyword “Transitions to Adulthood.” This summary was written by Carrie Mulford, a Social Science Analyst at NIJ. See full bulletin for source citations.
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