Classification of Criminal Behavior
The purpose of this essay is to discuss classification and assessment instruments.
For the purpose of assessing offenders needs/risk for this probation and parole office I will use the most modern and up to date evaluation tool available. This currently happens to be the Level of service/Case management inventory instrument of the fourth generation (LS/CMI IV). This latest version of assessment technology is presumed to be better than the third generation assessment instrument in that it emphasizes the link between assessment and case management, (Latessa & Smith, 2011).
While there are other fourth generation assessment tools available; such as the Ohio risk assessment system (ORAS), they do not suit the purpose of assessment for parole and probation as well as the LS/CMI IV does. The ORAS instrument is more applicable to treatment of offenders who are just entering the judicial system as it measure them throughout their process through the judicial system from start to finish.
The most pressing reason for using the fourth generation LS/CMI instrument is that it works well in connecting offenders risk and needs to their supervision program. It seems that many supervision agencies are missing the mark when it comes to evaluation and implementation of supervision, and treatment programs, (Bonta, Rugge, Sedo & Coles, 2004) also (LowenKamp, Latessa, & Holsinger, 2006).
Next it is very important to match the level of supervision correctly to offender’s risk factor. If supervision is incorrectly matched then offenders with low risk factors who end up getting too intense supervision and treatment can often results in more harm than good, (Andrews, Bonta & Hodge, 1990).
In the new LS/CMI IV assessment instrument dynamic risk factors are incorporated and lay the blueprint for treatment planning. These dynamic risk factors are often thought of or also called criminogenic needs, (VanBenschoten, 2008). Further advantages to using the LS/CMI-IV are that it can help agencies organize the supervision of their department. With the improved platform which helps supervision officers in their evaluations knowing the types of offenders they are serving they can better organize and budget their department services towards the specific types of offenders being treated, (VanBenschoten, 2008).
Over time supervision agencies have evolved in their treatment of offenders and so also has the types of assessment tools they use to evaluate offenders. It is most common practice that agencies evolve their assessment technology as it is improved, (VanBenschoten, 2008).
First generation risk prediction assessments basically only consisted of parole officer’s clinical judgment towards offenders. The second generation assessment tools measured static characteristics of offenders. One of the most popular second generation assessment tools were called the Burgess Model of assessment, (Latessa, 2002). A third generation tool for assessment or at least one of the most prominent ones is called the Level of Service Inventory-Revised. Finally we arrive at the current assessment tool of the fourth generation LS/CMI IV assessment tool. The most significant change in the newest version of the LS/CMI IV assessment tool is the integration of case planning which uses a system of intervention and monitoring, (Bonta & Andrews, 2007).
By using the LS/CMI IV assessment tool not only is there many benefits in regards to processing and handling clients/offenders in the parole/probation field but also it is often the best and fairest form of decision making in regards to offenders needs. Opposed to the original way that assessments were handled via the probation officers’ discretion the modern tools are much better at analyzing the many different facets’ of an offender’s life and history. The LS/CMI IV addresses not only static risk factors but too dynamic ones as well. However; it appears that the dynamic factors are more of a contributor towards the blueprint for the offenders’ treatment plan, (VanBenschoten, 2008).
It should be optional to also incorporate more specialized assessment tools into the departments’ arsenal of assessment and classification tools. There are specialized classification instruments which measure such things as mentally disordered offenders, sex offenders, and substance abuse offenders. For offenders who have special needs I would incorporate the actuarial classification instrument, (Hubbard et al., 2001).
While most people in the field of criminal justice now see assessment tools as a way to make their jobs easier and more efficient assessment tools do make mistakes. The validity of most good assessment tools is at best about 80 percent accurate. It should be noted though that if staff are properly trained to use the assessment tools and have a fair amount of experience with the tools then validity is usually increased, (Flores, Lowenkamp, Holsinger, and Latessa, 2006).
The most modern tools in use are the most efficient and precise in taking risk/needs assessments from offenders. Along with using the most up to date tools it is best to keep in mind that staff must be well trained and experienced with these assessment tools in order to get the full potential out of them.
Like I mentioned earlier I would definitely go with the LS/CMI IV assessment tool for use in the parole/probation department. It seems to evaluate a broad array of behaviors and also includes static and dynamic risk factors. Also other benefits to the LS/CMI IV are its ability to bring together evaluation, treatment and assessment all into one fairly easy to use tool.
Finally, it should not be ruled out that any additional assessment tools which could help gain a better understanding of an individual’s case should be used if quality of overall assessment can still be maintained. The end purpose is to better serve the community and the offender. First to protect the public and then to attempt to serve the offender and prevent future recidivism are of utmost importance to the parole and probation department. It should not be ruled out that special needs of certain offenders may arise from time to time which could be out of the normal scope of most clients needs. In these cases it is a good idea to attend to these offenders needs as best as possible. If back up assessment tools and trained evaluators are already in place for these special circumstances then the amount of time spent, resources used, and quality treatment given will all achieve the best possible results.
Wherefore, the LS/CMI IV is my first route of attack when it comes to assessment tools. With secondary assessment tools being the actuarial risk and needs assessment device. All of these tools along with a well trained staff should be able to handle any situation that arises. Hopefully with such advanced instrumentation and experienced staff recidivism and margins of error in assessments can be minimized while maximizing the benefits and quality of the parole and probation department. All of this combined amount to excellent evaluation techniques and implementation guaranteeing sound and proficient practice in the area of criminal justice.
Andrews, D. A., Bonta, J., & Hoge R. D. (1990). Classification for effective rehabilitation: Rediscovering psychology. Criminal justice and behavior.
Bonta, J., Andrews, D. A. (2007). Risk-need responsivity model for offender assessment and rehabilitation. Ottawa: Public safety Canada.
Bonta, J., T. Rugge, B. Sedo & R. Coles (2004). Case management in Manitoba probation. Users report. Ottawa: Public safety Canada.
Flores, A., LowenKamp, C. T., Holsinger, A., & Latessa, E. (2006). Predicting outcome with the level of service inventory-revised: The importance of implementation integrity. Journal of criminal justice, 34, (4).
Hubbard, D. J., Travis, L., & Latessa, E. (2001). Case classification in community corrections: A national survey of the state of the art. Washington, DC: National institute of justice, U. S. Department of justice.
Latessa, E. J., Cullen, F. T., Gendreau, P. (2002). Beyond correctional quackery. Federal probation, Vol. 66 (n.2).
Latessa, E. J., & Smith, P. (2011). Corrections in the community. Fifth edition.
Lowenkamp, C. T., Latessa E. G. & Holsinger, A. M. (2006). The risk principle in action: What have we learned from 13,676 offenders and 97 correctional programs? Crime & delinquency, 52, 77-93.
VanBenschoten, S. (2008). Risk/needs assessment: Is this the best we can do? Federal Probation; 72, (2), 38.