Risk of Recidivism offenders Essay
Risk of Recidivism
Name of Student
Risk Principle and Need Principle
Risk and needs assessment instruments to involve a series of items that are used to collect data on the offender’s attitudes and behavior to understand the risk of recidivism. This paper aims at addressing ways in which offenders who are at risk can be identified and rehabilitated as well as the offenders who require priority services from probation officers and which tools can be used to make this possible. Risk refers to the probability of an offender repeating an offense, and so the risk principle indicates that offenders ought to be provided with treatment levels and supervision, which are corresponding in proportion to their risk levels. (VanBenschoten, 2016) In other words, high-risk offenders ought to receive more intensive supervision and services from probation officers. The need principle, on the other hand, states that the intervention an offender receives matters a great deal, and correction officials must know the criminogenic needs of a person to make offender rehabilitation easy and effective. The needs principle targets those offender characteristics that have the most impact on the likelihood of re-offending.
Both the risk and need principles play a significant role in correctional treatment interventions and the risk and need assessment can be utilized to help probation officials avoid significant intervention with low-risk offenders while targeting those moderate to high-risk offenders in their attempt to foster rehabilitation. The contrast between the two principles is that while the risk principle focuses on providing treatment levels proportionate to offender risk levels, the needs principle puts more focus on the criminogenic needs that dictate the kind of intervention an offender receives.
Little focus is put on the risk levels of offenders but their specific traits. The intensive treatment programs, as well as the programs which target more criminogenic needs, have been found to reduce recidivism in high and low-risk offenders, respectively. Various circumstances and factors play a role in influencing an offender to repeat an offense, and for this reason, probation officers should consider both the risk and needs principle to enable them to deal with different offenders in an effective and relevant way.
High Risk and Low-Risk Offenders
Many people who have ever been convicted of crimes are usually placed on probation rather than being sent to prison, and these people are categorized into high-risk offenders and low-risk offenders. Probation officers have the responsibility to supervise all categories of people who have been placed on probation because criminal offenders vary in their risk to repeat offenses. To begin with, low-risk offenders are offenders who are at minimum risk to the community because they have low tendencies to re-offend. High-risk offenders, on the other hand, are individual who has a high tendency to re-offend and hence may pose a threat to the community.
Since probation officers help offenders find back their way into society while minimizing the likelihood of committing a new offense, probation officers ought to spend a lot of their time with high-risk offenders because many of the low-risk offenders only need less supervision to guide them back into society. (Walters, 2019) It is because low-risk offenders are unlikely to re-offend and so unlikely to benefit from intensive intervention. It is essential to assess risk levels and focus on the medium to high-risk offenders because they require intensive intervention and have a higher capacity to benefit from probation.
High-risk offenders may be willing to do better, but the community may not be willing to accept them back; hence, intervention is essential for them. The risk-need-responsivity model guides the decisions of probation officers and suggests the level of supervision that they ought to align with an offender’s risk level. Little intervention should be given to low-risk offenders because most of them do not want to feel like criminals; hence, probation officers should spend little time with them and instead focus on the medium to high-risk offenders. It is more of the risk principle. Over supervision has negative consequences, and so probation officers should have this in mind.
Need principle and offenders
The need principle advocates for focusing on criminogenic needs that affect a person’s risk for recidivism. In regards to high and low-risk offenders, this principle states that each offender should be supervised based on the specific criminogenic needs that make them more likely to re-offend. It is of little significance whether the offender is a high or low-risk offender; what matters is their criminogenic needs are met. The criminogenic and needs factors targeted by this principle include; substance abuse, dysfunctional family, lack of empathy, and impulsivity, among others. The factors stated can be both needs and risk factors in either low, medium, or high-risk offenders. The difference may be the intensity of the need, for example, a low-risk offender with a lack of self-control is at a high risk of recidivism as compared to a high-risk offender who has self-control regardless of the number or nature of crimes committed.
The needs principle says that apart from offenders being placed in programs proportionate to their risk levels, effective treatment should also focus on addressing those criminogenic needs that lead to criminal behavior both for low and high-risk offenders. It is because every offender has motivations that led them to offend, and when these motivations or causes are addressed, then their rate of recidivism can be reduced or even eliminated. (Yesberg, 2015) The needs principle does not advocate for intensive intervention for high-risk offenders only but instead expects all offender needs to be addressed in equal measure because it is these same needs that could lead a low-risk offender to become a high-risk offender in the case whereby the criminogenic needs go unidentified and hence unaddressed. Although other factors are considered, it is the intensity of an offender’s criminogenic needs that lead them to commit a new crime or not. High-risk offenders may have more criminogenic needs and so may require more services from probation officers.
A risk/needs assessment instrument is essentially a standard reference point that probation officers use to measure the criminal risk factors and specific needs that if effectively addresses, will reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Risk and needs assessment instruments are capable of predicting who is at risk for recidivism with a moderate level of accuracy. Several tools are used by probation officers to assess, manage, and monitor offenders both in the community as well as institutionally. (Bosker, 2016) Example of such tools includes the federal post-conviction risk assessment instrument, which is an instrument for predicting the chances of re-offending for offenders on federal supervision. Also, the self-appraisal questionnaire is used to assess violent and non-violent recidivism. The risk/needs assessment instruments are more reliable than the professional’s judgment because they can be used at multiple decision points to allow for directing the supervision intensity after clearly determining the risk level of offenders.
The risk/needs tools should be routinely validated to allow probation officers to have accuracy in determining the offender’s risk levels. Tools like the Risk and Needs Triage is important for determining the risk level of offenders accurately across different racial groups. To ensure that high-quality assessment is carried out, several tools are used hence allowing the probation officers to have effective case planning and management. It should be noted that several scholars have stated that risk and needs assessment tools have similar levels of performance in regards to determining an offender’s risk level and guiding them back into the community. Risk and needs management tools should not be the only factor in making decisions regarding the offender’s risk factor and supervision requirements, but they are currently the best methods that probation officers can utilize. Some assessment tools such as ACE and LSI-R consist of a two-page form which has a list of 54 factors related to reoffending when an offender is assessed based on these 54 factors a total LSI-R score is calculated and this is used by probation officers to determine the offender’s risk level.
Bosker, J., & Witteman, C. (2016). Finding the right focus: Improving the link between risk/needs assessment and case management in probation. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 22(2), 221.
VanBenschoten, S. W., Bentley, J., Gregoire, N. B., & Lowenkamp, C. T. (2016). The real-world application of the risk principle: Is it possible in the field of probation. Fed. Probation, 80, 3.
Walters, G. D. (2019). Changes in Arrest Rate as a Function of Probation and Participant Criminal History Risk: Does Probation Work Best With Lower Risk Probationers?. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 30(5), 748-764.
Yesberg, J. A., & Polaschek, D. L. (2015). Assessing dynamic risk and protective factors in the community: Examining the validity of the Dynamic Risk Assessment for Offender Re-entry. Psychology, Crime & Law, 21(1), 80-99.