WHAT IS ASSESSMENT?
"Assessment is the process by which information is obtained about offenders that's needed to make classification decisions about their placement, management and programming while confined, and about the timing and conditions of their release to the community." ~National Institute of Corrections
HOW DOES ASSESSMENT HELP?
- Good assessment and classification practices greatly improve correctional management
- Can make corrections more efficient by:
- Reducing costly periods of confinement for low risk offenders
- By ensuring limited resources are allocated to those who need them most
- Intake screening to identify security risks and immediate health needs
- Should gather information on static risk factors
- Do not change and include age at first conviction, number and severity of prior convictions, history of abuse and neglect, substance use, education, employment, family, etc.
- Should examine dynamic risk factors, or criminogenic needs
- Anti-social attitudes, values and beliefs
- Substance abuse
- Mental health
- Life skills, etc.
NORMED AND VALIDATED INSTRUMENTS
- All risk assessment instruments (including screening tools) should be normed and validated
- Norm: Assure it has the same statistical properties for the population to which it is applied as it did for the population on which it was originally developed and tested
- Validation ensures the tool measures what it purports to measure
- Inter-rater reliability should be maintained through training, supervision and monitoring
- Skill-based training: tests understanding of the language and intent; competence in understanding offender logic or criminal thinking; ability to discern discrepancies in self-report data; interviewing skills
- Quality control through supervision
- Built-in error and logic checking in computerized instruments
- TA available for vendors