Evidence Based Correctional Practices
Assess offender risk/need levelsusing actuarial instruments
Risk actors are both static (never changing) and dynamic(changing over time, or have the potential to change). Focusis on criminogenic needs, that is, oender defcits that puthim or her at-risk or continued criminal behavior.
Forexample, many studies show that specifc oender defcitsare associated with criminal activity, such as lack o employ-ment, lack o education, lack o housing stability, substanceabuse addiction. Actuarial instrument tools are available which can assist in the identifcation o these areas o serviceneeds. One o the most common o these is the Level o Service Inventory (LSI).
The LSI (see sidebar) may be themost used instrument: In a 1999 study, researchers oundthat 14% o the agencies surveyed in a national study wereusing the LSI-Revised with another 6% planning on imple-menting it in the near uture.
It is used in jurisdictionsacross the U.S. and Canada, and has been the subject o a considerable amount o research. Systematically identiying and intervening in the areas o criminogenic need is eectiveat reducing recidivism.
Enhance offender motivation
Humans respond better when motivated- rather than per-suaded-to change their behavior. An essential principle o eective correctional intervention is the treatment teamplaying an important role in recognizing the need ormotivation and using proven motivational techniques.Motivational interviewing, or example, is a specifcapproach to interacting with oenders in ways that tend toenhance and maintain interest in changing their behaviors.
This requires the application o what was learned in theassessment process described in #1 above.
Research showsthat targeting three or ewer criminogenic needs does
reduce recidivism. Targeting our to six needs (at a mini-mum), has been ound to reduce recidivism by 31 percent.Correctional organizations have a long history o assessing inmates or institutional management purposes, i nothing else. But when it comes to using this inormation in thesystematic application o program services, most correctionsagencies all short. While inmate fles may contain adequateinormation identiying oender’s defcits and needs, cor-rectional sta are oten distracted by population movement,lockdowns, and day-to-day prison operations. Oten, thesetake priority over the delivery o services based on the oend-er’s criminogenic needs. Sta training and proessionalismbecomes an essential component o developing a culture o personal change: well-trained sta can—and must—rolemodel and promote pro-social attitudes and behaviors even while maintaining a sae and secure environment.Thus, targeting interventions requires clear leadership andmanagement o the prison culture. Implementation meth-ods include the ollowing:•
Act on the risk principle
. This means prioritizing super-vision and treatment resources or higher risk oenders.
Recidivism reduction: Implementing new programs and expanding existing programsor the purpose o recidivism reduction requires integratingthe principles described here.
Level o Supervision Inventory-Revised. U.S. Norms Manual Supplement
Caseclassifcation in community corrections: Preliminary fndings rom a national survey
But when it comes to usingthis inormation in the systematic application o program services, most corrections agenciesall short.