Posted by Raymond Chip Tafrate, PhD, Damon Mitchell, PhD, & David J. Simourd, PhD on 3/13/20 8:00 AM
Topics: Assessment, Community Corrections Professional, Addiction, Relapse Prevention, client development, Developing a practice model, coaching community corrections clients, reentry, client needs and values, risk, EBP, Justice-Involved Clients, jic
Posted by Raymond Chip Tafrate, PhD, Damon Mitchell, PhD, & David J. Simourd, PhD on 10/18/19 12:13 AM
Risk Assessment is Not the Same as Case Formulation
We would like to start with a story. Picture a courthouse in a struggling industrial town in Connecticut. The adult probation department is situated in the basement of this courthouse. We are beginning training with a new cohort of probation officers, teaching them how to incorporate forensic CBT techniques into their work. To start, one of the officers describes a current case and reviews the available assessment information. A quick review of the risk assessment reveals this is a high-risk case; a major area of concern is antisocial companions. We ask the officer to explain how friends and companions specifically influence criminal behavior for this justice-involved client (JIC). We get crickets! We ask, what role did friends play in the most recent offense? Again, an awkward silence permeates the room. While the officer certainly knows that antisocial companions is a risk factor for reoffending, she has not explored the nature of the JIC’s relationships and discussed with the JIC the specific role of companions in his offense history and daily routines. Unfortunately, this is a common training scenario when we begin.Read More
Posted by Raymond Chip Tafrate, PhD, Damon Mitchell, PhD, & David J. Simourd, PhD on 10/11/19 12:36 AM
In earlier blogs, we discussed some of the advantages of case planning from a risk-reduction perspective. One of the key challenges in operating from a risk perspective is answering a critical question, Where do mental health symptoms fit when working with justice-involved adolescents and adults?Read More
Posted by Brad Bogue on 3/12/18 6:52 PM
Brad Bogue has a well-deserved reputation as a dynamic thinker and groundbreaking researcher in community corrections. So when Brad turned his thoughts to the question of what makes a high-quality risk assessment interview, we were all ears and we bet you will be too. Risk Assessments are a big part of setting the right path for our clients and working towards community safety. We at CorrectTech support this through our Assessment module. Because your assessments are scored and part of every client’s electronic record, we create more time for practitioners to conduct the interview, interpret the results and create a risk reducing case plan using evidence-based practices. We love that we support community corrections practitioners in having fewer scoring errors and less time focused on calculations – helping you focus on what matters most.
I have been training on a wide variety (e.g., CMC; YLS-CMI; PACT; COMPAS; LSI-R; PCL; SDRRC; ROPE; LS-CMI, ASUS, ASUDS) of offender assessment tools for over 32 years. Over time, I have begun to wonder precisely what competencies make an officer particularly good at sizing someone up with an interview-style assessment.
Before puzzling over that question, allow me to share two thoughts I subscribe to (with bias) on the assessment process. Number one, ‘it’s not the screw, but rather the hand that turns the screw,’ that makes the difference when it comes to assessment quality. There is a tremendous amount of variance between officers regarding quality of assessments, and rarely can it be attributed to variance in assessment tools. 3rd and so-called 4th generation offender assessment tools – nearly all additive-linear and comparable in itemization and scaling – may vary in price and automation slickness, but don’t differ that much regarding predictive validity.
This is the 2nd of a 7 part series on The Risk Principle Simplified. Subscribe to our blog and get the series delivered right to your inbox.
Why Does it Need to be Objective?
“Objective” means not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased. Prior to the use of objective measures of risk, subjective assessment was used. Subjective assessment of risk is based on a review of the clients’ history and a verbal interview with the individual about their plans and attitudes. In other words, subjective assessment is based on instinct or “gut” and therefore more reflective of the evaluator’s biases and/or the likeability of, or the effective manipulation by, the offender. Objective assessment accomplishes two things:
- Appropriate Focus: In order to measure the likelihood of criminal behavior, we must focus on the criteria that actually led to crime. Risk assessment is helpful only if you are measuring the presence and/or absence of characteristics that actually correlate with criminal behavior. For example, since research has proven that low self-esteem does not predict crime,