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Validation of the Los Angeles County Probation Department's Risk and Needs Assessment Instruments

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2003
85 pages
This study evaluated six different offender risk and needs assessment tools utilized by the Los Angeles Probation Department.
As a result of the large influx of new offenders into Los Angeles county jails, many offenders, some of whom had previous been labeled “unfit for release,” have been released under supervision. However, the Probation Department has been unable to meet the supervision needs of the growing probation population. As a result of litigation and a county-wide assessment of needs, the Probation Department established a set of minimum standards. Three of the five minimum standards involved the creation of a series of risk/needs assessment instruments to be used with the probation population. The usefulness and validity of these six risk/needs instruments are evaluated in this report. The current evaluation examined the assessment instruments for instrument integrity, use of overrides, decisions, and relationship to long-term recidivism outcomes and served as a follow-up for the department’s own pilot study of their assessment instruments. Chapter 1 of the report provides background information concerning the development of the assessment instruments, and the two phases of the instrument evaluation. Chapter 2 describes the research methodology, including a description of the sample, how reliability was assessed, issues related to instrument validity and bias, and the relationship of the assessment instrument to recidivism. Chapter 3 specifically examines the assessment instruments used on Los Angeles’s juvenile population, while chapter 4 evaluates the assessment instruments for the adult population. Finally, chapter 5 offers the study conclusions, which indicate that the juvenile and adult investigation and supervision instruments adequately predict recidivism. However, some of Los Angeles’s other assessment instruments, such as the IDC instruments, lack adequate scale integrity and do not adequately predict recidivism. The conclusions contain discussions related to instrument bias for demographic factors such as race. Future research, due to be completed in 2004, specifically examines the validity of the assessment instruments used for juvenile intake and supervision. Tables, figures, references

Date Published: January 1, 2003