Risk-Need-Responsivity Model for Offender Assessment and Rehabilitation

Developed in the 1980s and first formalized in 1990, the risk-need-responsivity model has been used with increasing success to assess and rehabilitate criminals in Canada and around the world. As suggested by its name, it is based on three principles:

  1. The risk principle asserts that criminal behavior can be reliably predicted and that treatment should focus on the higher risk offenders
  2. The need principle highlights the importance of criminogenic needs in the design and delivery of treatment
  3. The responsivity principle describes how the treatment should be provided.

This paper by James Bonta of Public Safety Canada and D.A. Andrews of Carlton University summarizes the role of the principles in the development of risk assessment instruments. It also explains why some interventions work and others do not. To view the paper, click here.