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Risk and Needs Assessment Instruments: A Guide for Courts

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $264,747)

This program is funded under both the Edward Byrne Memorial Competitive Grant Program (Byrne Competitive Program) and the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program. Authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2009 (Pub. L. 111-8), the Byrne Competitive Program helps local communities improve the capacity of state and local justice systems and provides for national support efforts including training and technical assistance programs strategically targeted to address local needs. The JAG Program (42 U.S.C. 3751) is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions, and JAG funds support all components of the criminal justice system. The JAG Program authorization also states that 'the Attorney General may reserve not more than 5 percent, to be granted to 1 or more States or units of local government, for 1 or more of the purposes specified in section 3751 of this title, pursuant to his determination that the same is necessary'(1) to combat, address, or otherwise respond to precipitous or extraordinary increases in crime, or in a type or types of crime' (42 U.S.C. 3756).

The National Initiative: Encouraging Innovation: Field-Initiated Programs is designed to strengthen the criminal justice system by challenging those in the field to identify and define emerging or chronic systemic issues faced by one or more components of the criminal justice continuum (includes but not limited to law enforcement, corrections, courts, and community collaborations) and to propose innovative solutions to address these issues.

The National Center for State Courts (NCSC) will develop a guide for courts exploring the selection and adaptation of risk and needs assessment instruments for use at the sentencing stage. They will establish and convene two meetings of an expert panel of judges, probation officers, state sentencing commission staff, and scientists who have developed or who have reviewed and critiqued risk and needs assessment instruments; draft a Guide for courts based on the expert panel's deliberations and review comments, conduct interviews with representatives from jurisdictions using assessment instruments at sentencing, and feedback from interested practitioners; and widely disseminate the online Guide to the court community and other interested groups and organizations. NCSC will develop a new resource to address the current gap in court knowledge regarding assessment instruments and considerations required to meet a jurisdiction's specific needs.


Date Created: September 17, 2009