The research on reducing recidivism is clear: focusing supervision time, appropriate treatment, and programming resources on people who are at a high risk of reoffending can decrease their likelihood of reoffending, while focusing those resources on people who are at a low risk of reoffending can increase their likelihood of reoffending.[14] Further, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to connecting people to resources. People must receive treatment and programming resources tailored to address their needs.

Yet applying the research on what works to reduce recidivism is difficult; state and local corrections and supervision agencies are increasingly utilizing risk and needs assessments, for example, but many are not using their assessment tools properly, or using the results to focus resources to have the greatest impact on recidivism.

State policymakers can support corrections and supervision agencies in adopting and refining their use of risk and needs assessments by taking the following steps:

  • Action Item 1:¬†Design policies to support the statewide use of risk and needs assessments.
  • Action Item 2:¬†Establish quality-assurance practices for the use of risk and needs assessments.

States are doing more to ensure the effective use of risk and needs assessment.

View the video to learn more about effective use of risk and needs assessment.

D.A. Andrews, Craig Dowden, “Risk Principle of Case Classification in Correctional Treatment: A Meta-Analytic Investigation,” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 50, no. 1 (2006): 88-100;¬†National Institute of Corrections, Topics in Community Corrections: Assessment Issues for Managers (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice National Institute of Corrections, 2004).