This paper examines how frontline juvenile probation officers’ (POs’) perceptions of a risk/need assessment (RNA) evolved over the years following its introduction, and what subjective experiences shaped their adaptation.
It does this by analyzing 86 qualitative interviews with POs conducted in five Pennsylvania counties several years after the introduction of the RNA. While line POs often experienced initial resistance to the RNA, views had tended to soften since, and they held a predominantly positive view of the tool at the time of the study. However, patterns of support and their change over time varied, with some line POs continuing to express resistant attitudes. Resistance to the tool during the period appeared anchored in concerns about workload, change, challenges to PO judgment, the tool’s legitimacy, and the tool’s purpose. Line POs’ acceptance of the RNA appeared related to its fit with their preexisting orientations, their recognition of the tool’s value through practice, a process of habituation, experiences of training, as well as pressure for compliance from managers and supervisors. Findings inform theory and guidance to future RNA implementation efforts. (Publisher Abstract)