Paroling Authority Self-Assessment Toolkit

Practice Target 1:

Use good, empirically-based actuarial tools to assess risk and criminogenic needs of offenders.

Empirically-based risk assessment tools provide a more accurate statistical probability of reoffense than professional judgment alone1. Studies show that seasoned professionals who rely exclusively on their experience and professional judgment predict recidivism at rates no better than chance. The use of actuarial tools, however, has been demonstrated to improve prediction rates. The best predictive outcomes are derived from a combination of using empirically-based actuarial tools and supplementing those assessments with clinical judgment. While these instruments cannot determine any one individual's risk level with absolute certainty, they can identify the outcome of large groups of individuals with similar characteristics. Further, a new generation of risk assessment tools, that focus on "dynamic factors" (i.e., factors that can change), can help us begin to understand the "criminogenic needs" of offenders—those needs that are driving the risk to re-offend. Recidivism risk is greatly reduced when attention is paid to criminogenic needs (i.e., dynamic risk factors) such as antisocial attitudes, beliefs and values, antisocial peers, and certain personality and temperament factors. There is a clear association between the number of criminogenic needs targeted and reduced recidivism; the higher the number of needs targeted, the lower the rate of recidivism.

Using the assessment scale below, select a response to each question that (in your judgment) best reflects how fully your state and your board currently implement this aspect of the practice target under consideration. After clicking the “submit” button at the end of this section, you can view and print a summary of your responses that you can then use to guide a discussion with your fellow board members.


Do you as a Parole Board Member have access to empirically based risk and needs assessment tools?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Have they been empirically validated on your population?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Do you have specialized tools available, such as for sex offenders, for women offenders, and/or for offenders with mental illness?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Have you received training on the implications and use of all of these tools?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant
Progress Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Does (at least one of) the tool(s) predict risk of recidivism?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Does (at least one of the) tool(s) assess criminogenic need?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
Does the information you receive translate the risk/need scores in a way so that the risk level and domains of need are clear?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5

How and when are these tools used:

At some point during incarceration to adjust programming requirements?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
At the point of transition/reentry to assist with case management?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
For release decisionmaking?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
To determine what is expected or required of offenders—regarding treatment or other services—in order for them to be considered favorably for parole?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
To determine what conditions of parole might be appropriate, in particular, linking the offender with interventions to address their criminogenic needs assessed as medium or high?
No Progress
Toward Implementation
Some Significant Progress
Toward Implementation
Full Implementation Unknown
1 2 3 4 5
In your judgment, how would you characterize your board’s progress in this area, considering the expectations/characteristics outlined above, and the previous discussion?
In your judgment, how would you rate the IMPORTANCE of bringing this practice target to full implementation in order for you to accomplish your goals as a paroling authority? Why?

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