An implementation evaluation of an actuarial risk assessment instrument

James Robert Johnson, University of Southern Mississippi


As a result of years of legislation aimed at getting tough on crime , the United States now boasts some remarkable and unenviable statistics. Today, one in every 45 adults in the United States is under some form of community supervision (Pew Center, 2009). At a time when states are facing budget crises that have not been seen in decades, state leaders have an opportunity to both cut costs and improve public safety by focusing community supervision resources on higher-risk offenders through evidence-based practices (Austin, 2007; Latessa, 2003; MacKenzie, 2000; Pew Center, 2009). Risk assessment is the critical first step in this process as it is indeed the foundation of effective community supervision (Austin, 2006; Bonta, 2007; Byrne, 2006; Latessa & Lovins, 2010; VanBenschoten, 2008). Without a reliable and validated risk assessment instrument, community corrections agencies will be unable to properly supervise the ever increasing numbers of offenders effectively. This study is an evaluation of a southern state's correctional agency's new actuarial risk assessment implementation process and instrument.