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Offender Classification and Assessment

Two related but distinct processes in the operation of the prison and community corrections systems

y Classification and assessment are typically performed by

correctional counselors who have three goals in mind

The publics need for protection and community safety 2. The identification and matching of offender needs for treatment and management with correctional resources 3. The improvement of correctional operation and performance while reducing costs and recidivism

y In the prison systems refers to the procedure of placing

prisoners in one of several custody levels

y Maximum y Close, y Medium y Minimum

y To match offender needs with correctional resources

y Type of facility to which they will be assigned y Level of supervision they will receive once there

Subjective and Objective Classifications

y Subjective classification
y Relied mainly on the experience and judgment of

administrators in early period of nations corrections

y Today, overrides allows correctional staff to change the scored

classification level according to the policies of the agency y Overrides accounts for 5 to 15% of all classified inmate case

y Objective classification
y Reliable and valid criteria that have been examined through

empirical research are used to establish custody level y Well trained and specialized professional personnel perform classification duties
y Recommend custody level be increased, decreased, or maintained y Transfers

y Each classification decision and the considerations used to make

each decision are documented and stored for analysis and examination

External and Internal Classifications and Reclassification

y All prisoners experience initial (external), internal, and

reclassification processes.
y Initial classification is also called external prison classification y Places an offender entering the prison system at a facility classified at the custody level where the prisoner will remain y Level 1,2,3 or higher y Max, med, minimum y Internal classification a process that determines the unit and cell

assignments and programs to match the prisoners risk and needs with the security and treatment characteristics of the unit and programs

y Reclassification
y A review process within a prison system that updates and

possibly revises the current classification.

y Emphasis on prisoners conduct during incarceration
y y y y

Degree of program participation Gang membership History of violence Recent disciplinary actions

y Classification in community corrections consists of

identifying and selecting supervision strategies

y Levels of supervision

y Classification made on the basis of assessing the risks and

needs of the offender

y A corrections process that is closely related to but distinct from

correctional classification y Instruments for correctional assessment typically cover two areas
y Risk y Needs of the offender y The risk refers to the danger to self, others, and the community that is presented by the offender. y Criminal history, y current convictions, y and violations y Dangerousness of the offense o Violent crimes and sex offenses are considered more dangerous than nonviolent/nonsex offenses y Needs o Education, employment, financial, relationships, housing, substances mental health, etc

The Level of Service Inventory-Revised (LSI-R)

A theoretically based offender risk-needs assessment that has the most all-embracing research literature among offender assessment instruments (Andrews & Bonta, 2003) Most frequently used instrument for classification and assessment Actuarial (predictive) tool that was created and developed in Canadian forensic setting Has 54 items Not developed for Sexual offenders or mentally disordered offenders # of checked items on LSI-R provides a total score Higher the score the greater the risk of criminal behavior

Static and Dynamic Risk Factors

y The 10 subscales on the LSI-R include some major static and dynamic

risk factors in relation to criminal behavior and recidivism

y Static risk factors y Designate variables or conditions that existed in an offenders past or are not responsive to correctional interventions. y Perpetrators age y Number of past offense committed, y Intellectual disabilities, y Favored choice of victim, y Age at first conviction, y Gender, y Race y Social class y Child hood trauma y Static factors cannot be changed by correctional efforts but the can change

naturally, such as age

y Dynamic risk factors y Conditions and attributes related to the offender that can be changed by programs, treatment, counseling, and other interventions y Marital distress y Skill deficits, y Substance abuse, y Companions/peer association y mental conflicts, y Low educational attainment y Antisocial supports y Because these factors are associated with recidivism and

criminal behavior, they are referred to as criminogenic needs

y Three Generations of Risk Assessment

y The first-generation risk assessments y The second-generation risk assessments y The third-generation risk assessments

LSI-Rs Strengths and Limitations

y Counselors can use the clients scores on education/employment

or other subcategories to decide how to connect available services and resources to meet the clients needs y Scores are a basis for community supervision for the offenders, determining level of supervision y Studies have shown that this inventory has the power to predict recidivism and to differentiate among different types of criminals
y Recidivism from those who do not commit new crimes y Differentiate between violent and nonviolent offenders

y Does not take into consideration the cultural, forensic and

sociopolitical context in different countries

False Positive, False Negative, and Deception

y False positive refers to cases when offenders have a low risk of

reoffending, but their scores on LSI-R put them in the high-risk category y False negative designates the opposite:
y Offenders have a low score on the measurement when they are

actually a high-risk offender

y Deception
y While some responses can be verified, other items may not be and

offender may not tell the truth y Deliberate deception is always an issue in psychological assessment
y Faking good

Endorsement of highly desirable characteristics and denial of normal human frailties y Faking bad y Endorsement of psychiatric symptoms

Other Tools for Classification and Assessment

y The Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI) y The Beck Depression Inventory y The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory -2 (MMPI-

2) y The Addictions Severity Index (ASI) and y The Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST)

y Hares Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R)

y Interpersonal or affective defects y glibness or superficial charm y Grandiose feelings of self-worth, y Conning or manipulative behavior y Lack of remorse or guilt, y Shallow affects, y Callousness or lack of empathy

y Social deviance
y Irresponsibility y Parasitic lifestyle y Impulsivity

y Additional items
y Unstable relationships, y Criminal versatility

y Each of the twenty items is given a score of 0, 1, or 2 based on y

y y y

how well it applies to the subject being tested A prototypical psychopath would receive a maximum score of 40, while someone with absolutely no psychopathic traits or tendencies would receive a score of zero A score of 30 or above qualifies a person for a diagnosis of psychopathy People with no criminal backgrounds normally score around 5 Many non-psychopathic criminal offenders score around 22

y Lifestyle Criminality Screening Form

y Clients irresponsibility y Obligations at school, work and home y Self-indulgence y Alcohol and drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, repeated gambling, the wearing of tattoos and regularly encroaching on the rights and personal dignity of others y Interpersonal intrusiveness y Social-rule breaking

Assessment Instruments for Juvenile Offenders

y Consistency lacking in selecting and implementing assessment

instruments for juvenile offenders y The Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI) developed by Hoge and Andrews (1999) appears to be most promising
y y y y y y y y

Offense history (prior and current offense/dispositions) Family circumstances/parenting Education/employment Per relations Substance abuse Leisure and recreation Personality and behavior Attitudes/orientation

y Indispensable for assessing offenders psychological conditions and mental disorders in

correctional settings y Axis I: clinical disorders, including major mental disorders, as well as developmental and learning disorders y Common Axis I disorders include depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, ADHD, Autism, phobias, and schizophrenia.

Axis II: underlying pervasive or personality conditions, as well as mental retardation y Common Axis II disorders include personality disorders: paranoid personality disorder, schizoid personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, histrionic personality disorder, avoidant personality disorder, dependent personality disorder, obsessivecompulsive personality disorder, and mental retardation Axis III: evaluates general medical condition, diseases of the blood, nervous, circulatory respiratory and digestive system. y Common Axis III disorders include brain injuries and other medical/physical disorders which may aggravate existing diseases or present symptoms similar to other disorders

Axis IV: Evaluates a clients problems with primary support group (family), social environment (lack or absence of social support, discrimination, adjustment to life-cycle such as retirement, education, occupation, housing, economic problems, problems with access to health care services), and interaction with the legal system Axis V: Assess the general functioning of a client on a scale from 0 to 100, with a high score indicating better functioning and a low score poor functioning It describes mental disorders, emphasizing observed or reported clinical features and symptoms, but does not give any attention to their underlying causal mechanisms
y Disorders are organized into major categories on the basis of shared symptoms

y Limits of the DSM System


Posttraumatic stress disorder and adjustment disorders should be put together under a category of stress disorders or trauma disorders because stressful events may play a causal role in the condition


2nd limit is that most of the DSM diagnoses are based on satisfying a certain number of equally important criteria
Clients with the same diagnosis are likely to be different even in their symptoms

3rd limit is that research shows nearly all of the Axis I DSM disorders have high concurrent and/or lifetime rates of comorbidty
y y

The simultaneous occurrence of more than one disorder in the same individual
29% of clients with a current mental health problem also have a history of a substance-use disorder Clients with a diagnosis of schizophrenia have a 47% lifetime history of substance abuse or dependence