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A Review of Brief Risk Assessment Tools Validated for use in Correctional Settings

Study Dates: 2014 – 2015

Study Description: Criminal justice researchers, government entities, and professional organizations endorse the use of structured risk assessments as best practice in correctional settings. When decisions regarding the placement, supervision, and treatment of offenders are informed by risk assessment, criminal justice systems are better able to address organizational goals related to public safety and efficiency, theoretically because offenders receive the specific type and amount of supervision and services necessary to reduce their risk of recidivism.

Despite such benefits, the economic reality of conducting an assessment with every individual who enters the criminal justice system can be prohibitive. Brief risk assessments, on the other hand, can be administered by non-clinical staff, are less resource and time intensive to complete, and provide a method for classifying offenders into groups according to risk level. Although not a substitute for full assessments, these brief assessments allow criminal justice entities to identify low-risk individuals and to direct limited resources towards those who are most likely to benefit from a comprehensive assessment (i.e., moderate and high risk offenders).

This final report evaluates and compares brief instruments for predicting general and violent recidivism (excluding sexual violence), failure to appear, and technical violations among adult offenders and juvenile delinquents who have been arrested, detained, charged, or convicted of an offense. A final section examines instruments intended to predict domestic violence recidivism.

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Last Updated: 12/12/23