As of 2017, 83 percent of state inmates and 49 percent of federal inmates released from U.S. prisons were rearrested within nine years and eight years, respectively. Implementing evidence-based rehabilitative interventions to reduce recidivism begins with valid risk and needs assessment (RNA) tools. In a prison setting, these tools allow staff to make informed decisions about inmates in their charge, but successfully implementing these tools can be challenging. Prison systems are highly complex, are often underresourced, and might lack the internal capacity to effectively implement RNAs in their operations. Furthermore, it can be difficult to change institutional culture to accept an evidence-based approach in an environment in which custody objectives are paramount.
To examine this issue, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), supported by the RAND Corporation in partnership with the University of Denver, hosted a two-day workshop to examine the use of RNA tools in prisons. During this meeting, four major themes were identified: organizational issues, the selection and implementation of RNA tools, the administration of assessments, and programming. Workshop participants called for additional training and guidance for leadership, evaluation of RNA tools, and research assessing the effectiveness of approaches to assessments and programming.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.
Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND’s publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.