U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Case Classification in Community Corrections: A National Survey of the State of the Art, Final Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2001
58 pages
This report presents the methodology and findings of a 1998 nationwide survey of probation and parole agencies regarding their case classification procedures, so as to determine the state-of-the-art in case classification in community corrections for adult offenders in the United States.
A review of the literature on offender risk and needs assessment technology in probation and parole supervision concludes that there have been few efforts to describe the current case classification procedures in community supervision, although there have been a number of summary reviews of the risk-prediction literature. The 1998 survey conducted for the current research involved all adult probation and parole agencies and a random sample of community corrections service providers in the United States. A total of 385 probation and parole agencies (63.4 percent) and 133 community treatment agencies (26.6 percent) responded. The findings indicate that classification and assessment of offenders is an important and valued aspect of community corrections throughout the United States. The vast majority of agencies used some form of standardized and objective tool to assess offender risks and needs. Most respondents rated the use of these instruments as very important to their work; the larger the agency, the more likely it was to use these instruments. The Wisconsin or some variation was the most widely used tool; however, the Level of Service Inventory (LSI) has gained a significant place in probation and parole assessments for classification, as it was cited as the instrument most likely to be considered for future adoption. Management issues reported included training, the cost of the instrument, and the ease of its use. The Wisconsin instruments in general were reported to be more easily and quickly scored than either the Case Management Classification System (CMC) or LSI, and staff training was not as rigorous or costly. Relatively few of the agencies had validated their instrument on local populations, despite some evidence that they had made modifications to the instruments. Only about one-third of the respondents had automated their classification process. Most agencies reassessed offenders; few assessed responsivity factors; and many did not link assessment to service delivery. Consequently, standardized and objective classification and assessment instruments have not been used to their full potential in community corrections. Suggestions are offered for future research. 14 tables, 35 references, and appended survey questionnaire

Date Published: February 1, 2001