Module 1: Getting Started

Module 2: Leadership, Vision and Organizational Culture

Module 3: Collaborative Structure and Joint Ownership

Module 4: Data-Driven Understanding of Local Reentry

Module 5: Targeted Intervention Strategies

Module 6: Screening and Assessment

Module 7: Transition Plan Development

Module 8: Targeted Transition Interventions

Module 9: Self-Evaluation and Sustainability

Section 3: Selecting Screens and Assessment Tools

This section provides assistance and guidance in selecting appropriate screening tools and assessment instruments that satisfy both the informational requirements of the TJC model and local concerns (e.g., inexpensive, easy to administer, yield information useful to a variety of partners). This section offers different types of instruments to assess specific inmates’ risk and needs.

Questions to think about before choosing screens and assessments include the following:

Screens and Short Assessments Used During the Booking Process

The TJC model recommends that each person booked at your jail receive a short risk-to-reoffend screen and a pretrial risk assessment. The risk-to-reoffend screen will help identify those who need a full risk and needs assessment and are targeted to receive intensive services pre- and post-release as well as those of lower risk who are candidates for release, diversion, or alternatives to incarceration.  The pretrial risk assessment will help identify the risk levels for failing to appear in court and rearrest. In some jurisdictions, the court may delegate to booking officers the authority to release those defendants who score as low risk on the risk assessment.  The risk-to-reoffend screen will help identify those who need a full risk and needs assessment.

Though it may seem okay to cut corners and use the score from a risk-to-reoffend screen or assessment to determine who should receive pretrial release, a number of factors relevant in predicting criminogenic risk and needs do not predict pretrial risk. The use of separate instruments is advised.

Risk-to-Reoffend Screens

The following table highlights three risk-to-reoffend screens for this purpose. Our intent is not to endorse any individual screen, but instead to draw your attention to screens commonly used in correctional settings that are well regarded by experts in the field.

The Proxy Risk Triage Screener is the shortest of the three, with only three items. The eight-item Level of Service Inventory—Revised Screening Version categorizes a person into a low-, medium-, or high-risk group. The Wisconsin Risk Assessment, an 11-item instrument, asks more comprehensively about criminal history, drug/alcohol interference, living arrangements, and general attitude regarding change.

Quick Risk Screening

Tool Name


Time to Complete Interview

Inventory Items

Instrument Result

Additional Information

Proxy Risk Triage Screener

No cost

Five minutes or less

Three items – Current age, age at first arrest, # of priors

Risk of recidivism on an 8-point scale

Level of Service Inventory—Revised Screening Version (LSI-RSV)



15 minutes

Eight items – Criminal history,
family/marital, companions,
alcohol/drug problems,

Risk of recidivism score on an 8-point scale and brief summary of dynamic risk areas that may need attention

Wisconsin Risk

No cost

15–30 minutes

11 items – Criminal history (adult and juvenile), drug/alcohol involvement, living arrangements, general attitude for change

Risk of recidivism score

Available in PDF

It is also possible to develop a risk screener using the administrative data on the jail population available in a jurisdiction. This can be done by examining factors related to recidivism that are captured in the jail MIS and analyzing which correlate most significantly with recidivism. For an example of this process for developing a screening tool, see the Vera Institute’s work on creating the Service Priority Indicator for the New York City Department of Corrections. Developing a jurisdiction-specific screening tool is a much more analytically complicated undertaking than implementing one of the commonly used tools, but may provide better prediction of recidivism.

Pretrial Risk Assessments

The following table highlights three pretrial risk assessment instruments. Our intent is not to endorse any individual instrument, but instead to draw to your attention pretrial screens commonly used that are well regarded by experts in the field.

The Ohio Pretrial Assessment Tool is the shortest of the three, with seven items, the point totals are grouped into three levels of risk – low, moderate, and high. The eight-item Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument categorizes a person into five levels of risk – lowest to highest. The Kentucky Risk Assessment Instrument is the longest of the three (12-items) and like Ohio’s tool, groups the point totals into low-, moderate-, or high-risk group.

Quick Pretrial Assessments

Tool Name


Time to Complete Interview

Inventory Items

Instrument Result

Additional Information

University of Cincinnati Corrections Institute Ohio Risk Assessment System.


No cost

10 minutes or less

Seven items – Age of first arrest, criminal history, employment, residential stability, history of drug use, severity of drug use.

Risk score on a 9-point scale. offender_assessment.html.

Virginia Pretrial Risk Assessment Instrument (VPRAI)


No cost

15 minutes or less

Eight items – charge type, pending charges, criminal history, failure to appear history, violent conviction history, length at current address, employed/primary care giver, history of drug abuse

Risk score on a 9-point scale


Kentucky Risk Assessment Instrument

No cost

15 minutes or less

12  items – length of current address, employment, charge type,  pending charges, failure to appear history, conviction history, violent conviction history, history of drug abuse, escape history, under probation/parole supervision

Risk score on a 24-point scale


In 2014, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation will be releasing a pretrial risk assessment tool that is based on a study of hundreds of thousands of cases from numerous jurisdictions.  The intent of the instrument is that it can be universal; that is, it can be used in any jurisdiction in the country.  Another feature of the instrument is that is comprised entirely of criminal history factors – information that would be readily available to a booking officer.  In addition, several states, including Ohio, Virginia, Kentucky, Colorado, and Florida, have validated their pretrial risk instruments within their state. These developments mean that there will be a validated pretrial risk assessment tool available for use in every jurisdiction in the country.

Assessments for Persons Who Score Medium to High on a Risk/Needs Screen

Comprehensive criminogenic risk/need assessment instruments are targeted to those who scored medium to high on the quick screen, indicating that they may need more intensive intervention. Multipurpose risk/needs assessments are advantageous because they not only evaluate the risk of recidivism, but identify categories of needs in areas identified as being most likely to impact recidivism, including education, employment, financial, family, housing, leisure, substance abuse, criminal thinking, and other personal needs. By discerning these criminogenic needs areas, the assessment tools identify targets for intervention.

Research consistently identifies eight major criminogenic needs, and further distinguishes between the "big four" (those most strongly related to re-offending) and the lesser four. They are:3

Big four criminogenic needs

  1. History of antisocial behavior
  2. Antisocial personality pattern
  3. Antisocial cognition
  4. Antisocial associates

Lesser four criminogenic needs

  1. Family/marital factors
  2. Lack of achievement in education/employment
  3. Lack of pro-social leisure or recreation activities
  4. Substance abuse
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3 Andrews, D.A., James Bonta, and J. Stephen Wormith. "The Recent Past and Near Future of Risk and/or Need Assessment."Crime and Delinquency, 52:1, 7-27.