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VIOLENCE RISK SCREENING IN COMMUNITY CORRECTIONS

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Research Summary:

Issues of safety and screening for potential violence are particularly salient in community correctional settings. These contexts require a risk assessment mechanism that can both classify offenders according to their risk of violent recidivism and be administered quickly and effectively by nonclinicians. Existing assessment instruments such as the LSI-R, PCL-R-2, VRAG, and HCR-20 are of limited utility in relation to predicting violence in community corrections. This research describes the creation and validation of the Violence Risk Screening Instrument that better meets the requirements of community corrections. Violent recidivism among men was best predicted by a three-item instrument consisting of Severe Violence, Domestic Violence, and Unstable Lifestyle. Policy Implications:

Balancing the treatment and supervision needs of offenders with the task of ensuring public safety within a context of limited resources makes risk assessment and triage essential. Resource constraints mean that not all offenders can receive high levels of supervision; similarly, best practice research on responsivity suggests that only those offenders at higher risk will benefit from high levels of supervision (Andrews and Bonta, 1994). In the past two decades, the use of risk assessment instruments has brought greater objectivity to the process of classifying offenders into risk groups. However, a single risk assessment instrument cannot classify offenders according to all forms of risk. As supervision strategies become more precise and more focused on specific forms of risk, so too must the instruments that are used to derive the classification. The Violence Risk Screening Instrument proposed here is valuable insofar as it meets the requisite criteria for community corrections: It has demonstrable predictive utility, and it can be administered by line-level personnel. Furthermore, it allows community corrections agencies to conserve limited resources for offenders determined to be at greatest risk of jeopardizing public safety.
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Keywords: Community Corrections; Risk Screening; Violence Triage

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Director of One in 37 Research Inc., a criminal justice consulting firm based in Portland, OR. She has provided evaluation-related technical assistance to over 60 jurisdictions nationwide for the Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Publication date: November 1, 2006

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