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Review and Revalidation of the First Step Act Risk Assessment Tool: A letter to the Research Community


Funding available!

NIJ has released a consultant statement of work under which we seek to review and revalidate on an annual basis the risk assessment tool developed in response to the First Step Act.

Learn more and download the statement of work.

Dear Colleague:

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the research agency of the U.S. Department of Justice, is pleased to announce the upcoming release of a funding initiative to review and revalidate (on an annual basis) the risk assessment tool developed in response to the First Step Act (FSA). The risk tool, the Prisoner Assessment Tool Targeting Estimated Risk and Needs (PATTERN), was developed for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to predict the likelihood of general and violent recidivism for all BOP inmates.

The tool was developed pursuant to the FSA. The Attorney General released PATTERN on July 19, 2019; it was designed to predict the likelihood of general and violent recidivism for all BOP inmates over a three-year follow-up period. As required by the FSA, the PATTERN assessment instrument contains static risk factors as well as dynamic items that are associated with either an increase or a reduction in risk. Additional enhancements to PATTERN were announced today, January 15, 2020, in a report released by the Department of Justice (DOJ). 

What Potential Applicants Need to Know

The intent of this letter is to alert the research community that NIJ anticipates supporting several consultants to assist in the annual review and revalidation of PATTERN. We also want to call your attention to specific aspects of this funding initiative that are of critical importance.

Successful consultants—

  • will be expected to assist DOJ in completing tasks specified in Section 3631 of the FSA, in coordination with NIJ and BOP.
  • must determine the validation sample and subsequent data to be used for the revalidation of PATTERN and work collaboratively to finalize the analytic plan for the review and revalidation of PATTERN.
  • will be subject to and must pass a required background investigation in order to access the data required to complete the annual review and revalidation of PATTERN.

NIJ looks forward to announcing the funding initiative in the coming weeks. NIJ will also host a webinar that will detail the core elements of this initiative, including eligibility requirements and the funding mechanism.

Thank you for your consideration in working with us.

David B. Muhlhausen, Ph.D.
Director, National Institute of Justice