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Implementing and Improving the Women’s Risk and Need Assessment (WRNA)

Principal Investigator (PI) / Project Lead:


Funding Organization:

National Institute of Corrections (NIC)


23PR16 – NIC FY 2023 Women’s Risk and Need Assessment (WRNA)

Award Number:


Project Period:

8/21/2023 – 8/20/2024

Total Funding:


Project Status:

In progress


Project Description:

To develop deliverables that will (1) inform interested agencies about the development of and requirements for the implementation of the Women’s Risk and Need Assessment (WRNA); (2) provide instruction to accepted project teams on the implementation and ongoing application of the WRNA; and (3) support and provide coaching to agencies and teams on the ongoing use of the WRNA.



Despite there being nearly 50 years of research supporting the need to have correctional approaches that are specific to women (Van Voorhis, 2012), and recent calls for equity in services for justice-involved women as opposed to exactly the same services for women as men (Buell & Abbate, 2020), several myths continue to persist among the correctional field. The shift from a one-size-fits-all treatment approach to a gender-responsive one is filled with the misperception that doing so “coddles” women while not holding them accountable. There are also many misperceptions about gender-responsive risk/needs assessment among the correctional academic discipline. Namely, that instruments deemed ‘gender-neutral’ are just as effective for justice-involved women as they are for men. These instruments (e.g., LS/CMI, ORAS, etc.) are not actually ‘neutral’ upon careful examination, even though they have demonstrated predictive validity among female populations. Importantly, just because an instrument is valid does not mean it is working as well as it could be if it had been designed for women at the outset, similar to the Women’s Risk Needs Assessment (WRNA). In order to provide a consistent message about the evidence-based nature of the WRNA, it is clear that a national marketing and training strategy is needed. 


This project addresses the need for creating a national marketing, training, and technical assistance strategy for the WRNA. With five central goals, the Utah Criminal Justice Center (UCJC) will use existing marketing videos developed through a separate NIC cooperative agreement, and will deliver in-person WRNA training to end-users among prison settings. Because the Principal Investigator is a co-creator and Master Trainer of the WRNA with intimate knowledge of its construction and validation, UCJC is in a unique position to carefully select qualified applicants to receive end-user training and technical assistance. Additionally, UCJC will deliver webinars and in-person workshops at the ACA Conference and another conference yet to be determined. For the training and technical assistance deliverables, UCJC will modify its existing intellectual property of WRNA training in collaboration with NIC to fulfill the needs of this cooperative agreement. Marketing webinars and training/technical assistance delivery to selected sites will be integrated with NIC’s WebEx platform.


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Last Updated: 4/25/24