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National Guidelines for Post-Conviction Risk and Needs Assessment

Public Safety Risk Assessment Clearinghouse
Take the Self-Assessment

The Issue

There are valid and growing concerns about accuracy, fairness, transparency, and communication in the use of risk and needs assessment. Risk and needs assessment results are not used enough to inform case decisions and management. Criminal justice agencies have not been given the guidance they need to communicate the strengths and limitations of risk and needs assessment. Furthermore, people who are being assessed rarely receive information about these assessments, how they work, and what they will be used to determine.

The Solution

Advancing Fairness and Transparency: National Guidelines for Post-Conviction Risk and Needs Assessment, a new resource from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs’ Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and The Council of State Governments Justice Center, addresses these gaps with clear, concrete direction. Funded by BJA as a project of the Public Safety Risk Assessment Clearinghouse, the guidelines were developed under the advisement of a national group of researchers, risk and needs assessment instrument developers, practitioners, and leaders in the field. They prioritize accuracy, fairness, and transparency in the communication and use of risk and needs assessment.

Intended Audience

These guidelines and their associated resources were developed with a variety of audiences in mind, including legislators, administrators, practitioners, and researchers.

Legislators


Legislators are uniquely positioned to ensure that the criminal justice agencies they fund are employing risk and needs assessment in a way that promotes accuracy, fairness, transparency, and effective communication and use.

Download the FAQ for Legislators


Administrators


Administrators and other system leaders can use these guidelines to improve the risk and needs assessment process in their agencies.

Download the FAQ for Administrators


Practitioners


For practitioners who use risk and needs assessment on a day-to-day basis, these guidelines provide clarity, inform case planning, and promote buy-in from the people they assess.

Download the Executive Summary

Researchers


These guidelines equip researchers with the concrete steps needed to evaluate whether risk and needs assessment practices align with the principles of accuracy, fairness, transparency, and effective communication and use.

Download the Companion Guide

Contact

Dr. Heather Tubman-Carbone
Senior Policy Advisor, Bureau of Justice Assistance
202-598-7321
[email protected]

About the Guidelines

These guidelines were developed to promote accuracy, fairness, transparency, and effective communication and use of risk and needs assessment instruments to inform decisionmaking following conviction. Whatever the setting, the guidelines presume that the intended use of post-conviction risk and needs assessment instruments is to support accurate, fair, and transparent decisions regarding a person’s risk of recidivism. These guidelines also presume that the purpose of post-conviction risk and needs assessment instruments is, ultimately, to promote public safety and positive outcomes for people in the criminal justice system through the least restrictive means possible.

This project was accomplished through the collaborative efforts of researchers, risk and needs assessment instrument developers, practitioners, and leaders in the field who gave generously of their time and expertise over the course of 2.5 years. It draws on an extensive review of literature and related research, observations from the field, feedback from national experts, several multidisciplinary forums and advisory group discussions, and a rigorous review process.