Plenary: Understanding the Risk/Need Principle

October 14, 2013

The risk principle states that higher-risk offenders should receive more intensive services and supervision than lower-risk offenders. In fact, research suggests providing low-risk offenders with intensive interventions or mixing them in groups with high-risk offenders can actually increase their level of risk. The need principle states that the type of intervention a person receives matters a great deal. Corrections officials should target a person’s greatest criminogenic needs. Criminogenic needs are defined as the dynamic risk factors that affect a person’s risk for recidivism. Officials should conduct criminogenic need assessments to prioritize those factors that have the greatest influence on the person’s likelihood of recidivating. Dr. Ed Latessa, from the University of Cincinnati, demystified the risk and need principles and highlighted the critical elements of effective risk-reduction programs.

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