Beyond Risk and Needs Assessments

Recent literature on best practices in correctional assessment focuses on three objectives: Resources should target high-risk offenders; programs should address needs related to each offender’s criminal behavior; and case plans should employ strategies that reflect the learning style, motivation, capacities, and circumstances of each offender. Most assessment systems target high-risk offenders. However, standard risk and needs assessments do not necessarily identify needs that are truly criminogenic for each individual; nor do they address responsivity. This is because these systems do not inherently identify either specific strategies and programs that reflect the learning style of the offender or approaches and programs most likely to motivate each offender to change behavior. This paper describes a comprehensive approach to assessment, developed by NCCD, that successfully addresses all three objectives listed above.