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Optimizing Risk & Needs Assessments for State & Local Jurisdictions - NIJ Juvenile Justice Research

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2020
2 pages
In this 4-minute video, Zachary Hamilton, Associate Professor at the University of Nebraska, is interviewed about his research on risk assessment, needs assessment, and responsivity, with a focus on how the interaction between adults' and juveniles' predictors impact their likelihood of recidivism, as well as the programming and services provided.
When asked about his primary goals for risk and needs assessments in juvenile justice research, he indicates he is focusing on the optimization of risk and needs assessment tools that are more accurate for juvenile agencies and beneficial for each juvenile. When asked about his key research findings, he indicates that the accuracy of needs assessment tools can be increased with small steps, such as making a gender-specific tool, predicting specific outcomes for the risk of various types of offending, and adding more advanced statistical algorithms. When asked about some implications of his research for policy and practice, he indicates it is finding that a needs assessment tool created by an individual or a tool adopted "off the shelf" can be modified to meet the needs of an agency. This will increase its utility and acceptance by agency staff. When asked about the implications of his research for other academics, he indicates it is a realization that there are multiple ways to create a risk assessment tool to predict recidivism for particular offenses in relation to particular individuals in various contexts.

Date Published: June 1, 2020