This is the Executive Summary of the report on National Guidelines intended to promote accuracy, fairness, transparency, and effective communication and use of risk and needs assessment instruments, which are widely used to inform decisionmaking on the security management and treatment programming of convicted offenders in the United States.
These guidelines serve as a reference for policymakers and agency administrators in diverse criminal justice settings, as well as for developers of new risk and needs assessment instruments. Readers are encouraged to consider these guidelines together with the additional resources that examine each individual guideline. These guidelines are drawn from empirical research and reflect the perspectives of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers who participated in several discussions of key concerns in the development, validation, and implementation of post-conviction risk and needs assessment instruments. These guidelines also consider existing statements and guidance on the use of risk and needs assessment instruments to support accurate, fair, and transparent decisionmaking regarding a person’s risk of recidivism and, ultimately, to promote public safety and positive outcomes for those in the criminal justice system, including habilitation and community reintegration through the least restrictive means. Guidance is also provided on the effective communication and use of risk and needs findings and their application in offender interpretation and application.