Handbook on Risk and Need Assessment: Theory and Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Handbook on Risk and Need Assessment

Theory and Practice, 1st Edition

Edited by Faye S. Taxman


476 pages | 32 B/W Illus.

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The Handbook on Risk and Need Assessment: Theory and Practice covers risk assessments for individuals being considered for parole or probation. Evidence-based approaches to such decisions help take the emotion and politics out of community corrections. As the United States begins to back away from ineffective, expensive policies of mass incarceration, this handbook will provide the resources needed to help ensure both public safety and the effective rehabilitation of offenders.

The ASC Division on Corrections & Sentencing Handbook Series will publish volumes on topics ranging from violence risk assessment to specialty courts for drug users, veterans, or the mentally ill. Each thematic volume focuses on a single topical issue that intersects with corrections and sentencing research.


Risk and need assessment has been one of academic criminology’s biggest achievements and biggest disappointments. Although assessment tools are ubiquitous across correctional systems, they have fundamentally failed, to date, to alter the culture of correctional practice. In this urgent new volume, the most important and influential assessment researchers take stock of the successes, failures and futures of the practice, exploring both the evolving science of risk prediction and the art of implementation. A most promising start to the new DCS Handbook Series.Shadd Maruna,Professor of Criminology, University of Manchester, UK

Accurate assessment of offender risks and needs is the bedrock of efforts to improve public safety. This handbook provides a critical foundation for advancing science and policy by illuminating the tremendous progress in assessment that has occurred. It is a must-read for anyone seeking to create a safer and more just society. Daniel P. Mears, Ph.D., Mark C. Stafford Professor of Criminology, Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice

At virtually every stage of the justice system, new methods are being employed that enable decision-makers to use risk to the public as a criterion for justice system control. Yet even as these methods diversify, the empirical foundation for risk assessment remains a work-in-progress. Too little is known about the practical significance of risk as a core justice construct and the corresponding operational significance of risk assessment as a technique. This collection brings together superb studies of risk in the correctional system, both as an idea and as a practice. It is a welcome new contribution to our understanding of the most important development in the current generation of tools for the justice professions: risk assessment. Todd R. Clear, University Professor of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University-Newark

The major strength of the Handbook on Risk and Needs Assessment is that it provides researchers and practitioners with a comprehensive collection of chapters that helps chart the topic from its history to the implications for practice and policy. It is a must have for anyone working or studying in the field of corrections. – Edward Latessa, Professor and Director, University of Cincinnati

One of the most intense activities by the many agencies responsible for managing accused or convicted offenders these days is assessment of their needs and of their treatment needs, especially for addiction or mental illness, or their risk in the community, whether that be on pre-trial release rather than bail, sentencing, and parole or probation release or recommitment decisions. This volume has pulled together a rich array of chapters from the wide variety of perspectives involved in assessing risk and needs from both methodological and implementation perspectives.

Alfred Blumstein, J. Erik Jonsson University Professor Emeritus, Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University

Table of Contents

  1. The Value and Importance of Risk and Need Assessment in Corrections & Sentencing: An Overview of the Handbook
  2. Faye S. Taxman, George Mason University

    Amy Dezember, George Mason University

    History of RNA

  3. Risk and Needs Assessment in Probation and Parole: The Persistent Gap Between Promise and Practice

    William D. Burrell

  4. The Research Director Perspective on the Design, Implementation, and Impact of Risk Assessment and Offender Classification Systems in USA Prisons: A National Survey

    James Byrne, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

    Amy Dezember, George Mason University

  5. Methodological Issues in Creating and Validating RNA

  6. Static Risk Factors and Criminal Recidivism

    Robert Brame, University of South Carolina

  7. Accuracy of Risk Assessment in Corrections Population Management: Where's the Value Added?

    James Hess, University of California, Irvine

    Susan Turner, University of California, Irvine   

  8. Improving the Performance of Risk Assessments: A Case Study on the Prediction of Sexual Offending among Juvenile Offenders

    KiDeuk Kim, The Urban Institute

    Grant Duwe, Minnesota Department of Corrections

  9. Using Predictive Analytics and Machine Learning to Improve the Accuracy and Performance of Juvenile Justice Risk Assessment Instruments: The Florida Case Study

    Ira M. Schwartz, Consultant and Advisor to Algorhythm

    Peter York, Founder and CEO of Algorhythm

    Mark Greenwald, Director of Research, Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and Doctoral Student at Florida State University

    Ana Ramos-Hernandez, Data Manager, Algorhythm

    Lisa Feeley, Research Analyst, ICF International

  10. An Alternative Scientific Paradigm for Criminological Risk Assessment: Closed or Open Systems, or Both?

    Tim Brennan, Northpointe, Inc.

  11. Dynamic Risk Factors and Responsivity Toward Different Populations

  12. Risk, Need, and Responsivity in a Criminal Lifestyle

    Glenn D. Walters, Kutztown University

  13. Gender-Responsive Risk and Need Assessment: Implications for the Treatment of Justice-Involved Women

    Emily J. Salisbury, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

    Breanna Boppre, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

    Bridget Kelly, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

  14. Advancing Sexual Offender Risk Assessment: Standardized Risk Levels Based on Psychologically Meaningful Offender Characteristics

    R. Karl Hanson, Public Safety Canada

    Guy Bourgon, Public Safety Canada

  15. Incorporating Procedural Justice and Legitimacy into the RNR Model to Improve Risk-Need Assessment

    Katherine Ginsburg-Kempany, Arizona State University

    Kimberly A. Kaiser, Arizona State University

  16. Adoption of Risk Tools to Employment Context

    Garima Siwach, University at Albany (SUNY)

    Shawn D. Bushway, University at Albany (SUNY)

  17. Exploring How to Measure Criminogenic Needs: Five Instruments and No Real Answers

    Brittney Via, George Mason University

    Amy Dezember, George Mason University

    Faye Taxman, George Mason University

  18. RNA Implementation and Practice

  19. Customizing Criminal Justice Assessments

    Zachary Hamilton, Washington State University

    Elizabeth Thompson Tollefsbol, Washington State University

    Michael Campagna, Washington State University

    Jacqueline van Wormer, Washington State University

  20. Risk/Need Assessment Tools and the Criminal Justice Bureaucrat: Reconceptualizing the Frontline Practitioner

    Joel Miller, Rutgers University

    Sarah Trocchio, Rutgers University

  21. Risky Needs: Risk Entangled Needs in Probation Supervision

    Danielle S. Rudes, George Mason University

    Jill Viglione, University of Texas, San Antonio

    Kimberly S. Meyer, George Mason University

  22. Special Issues Regarding the Conceptualization for RNA

  23. Purpose and Context Matters: Creating a Space for Meaningful Dialogues about Risk and Need

    Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Director Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies, University of Toronto, Canadiana Gallery

  24. Human Rights and High Risk Offenders: The Right to Rehabilitation and the Right to Fairness

    Mary Rogan, Barrister-at-Law, Head of Law and Assistant Head of the School of Languages, Law and Social Sciences, Dublin Institute of Technology

About the Editors

Faye S. Taxman, PhD, is a University Professor in the Criminology, Society, and Law program at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, and director of its Center for Advancing Corrections Excellence. A well-regarded scholar and researcher, she is Past Chair of the American Society of Criminology's Division on Corrections & Sentencing.

About the Series

The ASC Division on Corrections & Sentencing Handbook Series

The American Society of Criminology’s Division on Corrections & Sentencing sponsors a series of volumes published by Routledge on seminal and topical issues that span the fields of sentencing and corrections. The critical essays, reviews, and original research in each volume provide a comprehensive assessment of the current state of knowledge, contribute to public policy discussions, and identify future research directions. Each thematic volume focuses on a single topical issue that intersects with corrections and sentencing research. The contents are eclectic in regard to disciplinary foci, theoretical frameworks and perspectives, and research methodologies.

Editorial Board

Gaylene Armstrong, University of Nebraska, Omaha

Todd Clear, Rutgers University

Francis T. Cullen, University of Cincinnati

Natasha Frost, Northeastern University

Beth Huebner, University of Missouri, St. Louis

Brian Johnson, University of Maryland

Jodi Lane, University of Florida

Dan Mears, Florida State University

Michael Osterman, Rutgers University

Cassia Spohn, Arizona State University

Jeffery Ulmer, Pennsylvania State University

Christy Visher, University of Delaware

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Criminology