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Washington State Institute for Criminal Justice Corrections and Community Health

Risk-Need Assessment

In the last ten years, the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) has marked a series of advancements, from a standard “off-the-shelf” instrument (LSI-R), to a static-only instrument with improved predictive validity (SRA), and finally the addition of a needs assessment tailored to the Washington State offender population (STRONG). The current project is an expansive endeavor to combine collected static risk and dynamic items into a consolidated system of prediction instruments – prison infraction, recidivism and violations. To improve gender sensitivity, models are created separately for males and females. Partnering with software application specialists (, this project will span the development and implementation/training of the revised version of WADOC’s Static Risk and Offender Needs Guide assessment system (STRONG-R).

Report of Effectiveness | pdf


Research in Brief – Interrater Reliability | pdf

Research in Brief – Internal Consistency | pdf

Research in Brief – Internal Structure | pdf

Research in Brief – Convergent-Discriminate Validity | pdf

Research in Brief – Concurrent Validity | pdf

Research in Brief – Content Validity | pdf

Read more information on the risk assessment here: “Offender Risk Assessment” on the Corrections Forum


Offender Typology
Currently, risk assessments are conducted to determine placement in a small set of categories (e.g. low, moderate, and high) formulated on a dimensional (continuous) scale. However, this type of categorization ignores key interactions among predictor variables. Latent Class Analysis is a more recently utilized method that attempts to take a seemingly heterogeneous sample of subjects and separate them into homogeneous subsamples based on similar characteristics. This recent study sought to create a typology of Washington State offenders reentering from incarceration, identifying common “types” of offenders being released to the community, examining the interpretive and predictive value of a typological assessment and potential interactions of offender types with interventions and services.

Routh et al., 2017| link

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Predicting Technical Violations
The intended purpose and hope of the “technical violation” is that such a violation would act as an indicator of the person’s potential of committing a new crime. Parole revocations are grounded in the notion that technical violations are actually proxies of new criminal offenses – a notion that has yet to be sufficiently challenged. Using risk assessment predictors of new crime, we test the sensitivity and specificity of risk assessment variables using a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) in relation to the prediction of technical violations. By encompassing data from three Northwestern states, we offer a necessary investigation into the assumptions that drive risk assessment, treatment placement, and supervision plans.

WARNS Middle School Diagnostic Tool Pilot Study
Drs. Nicholas Lovrich and Paul Strand, along with Maureen Erickson (WSU Criminal Justice MA) are working on a follow-up project stemming from grant-funded research on truancy and dropout problems in Spokane County school districts. Funding came from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and then the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and entailed assessments of a restorative justice effort begun in 1997 in the West Valley School District after enactment of the state’s BECCA Bill. That law requires schools and juvenile courts to engage actively in the monitoring of school attendance and the filing of petitions to the courts to compel students and/or parents or guardians to comply with the state’s mandatory attendance statute. The West Valley School District leadership decided to reach out to its citizens, its community-based groups, its non-profit organizations and its public service agencies to join in a common effort to create an alternative to court processing for truant youth in the form of a Community Truancy Board (CTB). A Models for Change grant was awarded to WSU researchers by the Foundation to support the development of a “replication tool kit” for school districts wishing to adopt the process. The Spokane Public Schools (SPS) replicated the CBT concept for their high schools, and the Mead School District did likewise for all grades. Soon after the end of the Mac Arthur Foundation funding the SPS, the Spokane Regional Health District, Greater Spokane Inc., and the Spokane County Juvenile Court collaborated in a grant funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to test out the possibility of earlier intervention (middle school) before a BECCA filing would take place for at risk students.

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Assessment of the Civilly and Forensically Committed
This project focuses on the development and creation of a risk assessment to predict a variety of outcomes (i.e. hospitalizations, recidivism and commits) following the release from civil commitments. Sponsored by the Washington State Legislature and working in cooperation with the Washington State Institute for Public Policy (WSIPP), the project seeks to examine the relative risk and associated needs that impact those released from state custody following a civil commitment. With the goal of creating a risk assessment tool, WSU seeks to provide an instrument that will assist assessment providers and policy makers with needed information at the time of release from custody.

Washington State Institute for Public Policy Report | pdf

Predicting Criminal Behavior Through Risk Instruments | podcast

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Validation of the Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT)

Funded by the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts, this project is an expansive endeavor to update and advance the current risk assessment – the Positive Achievement Change Tool- tailoring the instrument using gender specific modeling, specialized outcome prediction and analytically weighted models. Further exploration was also completed to identify and specify youth needs domains and explore the use of typologies in the creation of a responsivity tool for youth program placement. Preliminary as well as technical report findings have been completed along with two technical reports, which outline the development of the Modified Positive Achievement Change Tool (or M-PACT).

PACT Needs and Responsivity Assessment Deliverable 2 | pdf

PACT Research Brief | pdf

PACT Study Final |  pdf

PACT Needs and Responsivity Assessment Deliverable 1 |  pdf

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Multi-State Validation of Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT)- Optimizing Juvenile Assessment Performance

This project, funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention FY 2017 Field Initiated Research and Evaluation Program (CFDA #16.540), utilizes data on over a million justice-involved youth assessed with the same youth risk/needs assessment and whose recidivism has been tracked. The study aims to identify jurisdictional variations in assessment performance and outline customizable solutions for delinquency prevention through optimization of risk/needs assessment performance. States included to date include: Delaware, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and Texas. Technical have been completed for Iowa and Washington samples, with final findings due out October of 2019.

  • Iowa:
    • Iowa Delinquency Assessment (IDA): Validation, Assessment, and Recommendations. Many risk/needs assessments are adopted off-the-shelf without any adaptations made to fit the characteristics of a jurisdiction’s justice-involved youth population. The Washington State Institute for Criminal Justice examined and compared the predictive accuracy of the Iowa Delinquency Assessment (IDA), also called the Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT), in Iowa. This assessment, although widely used in various jurisdictions, has been relatively unchanged. The tool was updated for Iowa via item selection and weighting, gender-specific models, and multiple outcomes. Predictive accuracy between the current and updated IDA increased by 7%, and there was evidence of reduced racial disparity in the updated models. Results from this work reveal the need to customize assessment tools in order to meet needs specific to jurisdictions in order to increase predictive accuracy.
  • Washington
    • Washington Association of Juvenile Court Administrators: PACT Validation and Weighting Results – Updated PACT Risk and Needs Assessment. The Washington State Institute for Criminal Justice updated both the PreScreen and Full Positive Achievement Change Tool (PACT) Assessment, which is a youth risk/needs assessment used to identify justice-involved youths’ risk and needs, in Washington. The update served to improve both the predictive validity and the utility of the instrument. Additionally, as part of this work, a needs assessment was created to identify youths’ dynamic, criminogenic needs that could be used to better match programming to youths’ specific needs. Paired with the risk assessment, the stand-alone needs assessment has the potential to improve youths’ outcomes and contribute to better allocation of programming resources. Essentially, this work served to tailor the PACT for youth under the supervision of the Washington State Juvenile Court Administrators (WAJCA) by removing items that were not predictive of different recidivism types while also reforming new items to increase predictive performance. This customization process included item selection and weighting, outcome specificity, and gender responsivity. Modifications of the Prescreen allow for more accurate and effective diversion of low-risk youth, where the updated model improved predictive accuracy by 2%. Conversely, the modified Full Assessment resulted in a 6% increase in predictive performance. Furthermore, the stand-alone needs assessment was identified to have construct validity and was also specified for youth gender and most likely recidivism type. In short, this work serves to improve prediction accuracy while also facilitating need-program matching for various types of reoffending outcomes

IDA Technical Report |  pdf

WA Technical Report |  pdf

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Prison Transfers and Violence
The prison transfers project introduces a new theory of inmate misconduct following the transfer of inmates between correctional institutions. Existing theory suggests that the immediate institutional environment and community environment from which inmates are imported influence infractions in the prison setting. This research proposed a third influence on infractions, namely the prison environment from which inmates are transferred out of having a lasting influence on misbehavior. Evidence supports the new theory, suggesting that inmates transferred from larger institutions with higher infraction rates, and to facilities with a different custody rating, commit more infractions following a transfer. Additional studies will seek to identify the impact of classification and optimize methods for new classification instruments that will optimize transfer efficiency and aim to reduce serious and violent infraction behavior.

Kigerl and Hamilton, 2015| link

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Prison Classification

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Assessing the Behavior and Needs of Veterans with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in Washington State Prisons: Establishing a Foundation for Policy, Practice, and Education
In partnership with the Traumatic Brain Injury Strategic Partnership Advisory Council, WSU researchers are assessing incarcerated Veterans of the United States Armed Forces within Washington state prisons to determine whether traumatic brain injury (TBI) affects an individual’s prison experience, and in turn, one’s chances of success upon release from prison. Recent research indicates that an estimated 16% of Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC) incarcerated veterans have experienced a moderate or severe TBI compared to 7.6% of the general inmate population, yet little more is known about these veterans and how they experience prison (Phillips, 2013). WSU researchers are examining individuals’ institutional behaviors, uses of medical services, and abilities to participate in offender change programs geared toward increasing prosocial behavior and reducing recidivism. This research will provide a foundation from which to build effective policy and evidence-based practice through a better understanding of incarcerated veterans with a TBI.

Research Brief | pdf

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Evaluation of Washington State’s Swift and Certain Policy for Community Supervision of Offenders

Funded by the Lewis and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF), this study seeks to examine findings from the statewide implementation of Washington State’s Swift and Certain (SAC) program. the program, modeled after the Hawaii HOPE project’s application of specific deterrence principles (Hawken and Kleiman, 2009), is the first statewide effort utilizing a large felony offender population (N~10,000). This is a one-year project for $75,000.

Research Brief Washington State Swift and Certain | pdf

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Following a WSIPP meta-analysis of evidence-based practices in criminal justice, the Washington State Legislature created a provision to investigate the use of evidence-based programming for offender populations in the state and the recommended placement and commitment to stated programming. Working in collaboration with WADOC, WSU has sought to identify, describe, and investigate the available evidence surrounding all programming used for offender populations by the WADOC. With the intended goal of recommending programs to utilize and expand, WSU created a repository of evidence surrounding offender programing that can guide the DOC’s use of interventions going forward. In addition, a ‘gap analysis’ was created that identified programming available, not needed, and areas for expansion.

Research in Brief | pdf

APPENDIX II Intermediate Outcomes – MAIN | pdf

EBPP Year 1 Final Report 2014-02-26 | pdf

EBPP Year 2 Final Report| pdf

Campbell et al., 2018| link

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Correctional Industries Evaluation
The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between inmate participation in Correctional Industries (CI) and subsequent criminogenic behavior — both during and following incarceration. Specifically, this study is concerned with how CI participation promotes pro-social offender change, which is measured by reductions in institutional infractions and recidivism, and increases in reentry success (i.e. sustained employment, adherence to supervision conditions). Contemporary research has highlighted the criminogenic benefits of education and vocation programing in prisons. However, few studies have isolated the effects of CI participation. Through the use of a quasi-experimental research design, including a propensity score matched comparison group, this study will highlight the unique contribution of CI participation to offender rehabilitation as well as institutional and community safety.

Research in Brief | pdf

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Snohomish County Adult and Family Drug Treatment Court Evaluation Project
This research includes a process, outcome and cost-benefit study of the Snohomish County Adult Drug Court (ADC) and Snohomish County Family Drug Treatment Court. The outcome evaluation is focused on assessing whether drug court participants remain crime free, complete treatment at greater rates than individuals who participate in the traditional system, and the impact of drug court participation on use of other social and health services (and the implications of these changes). The cost-benefit study compares the overall operational costs of the drug court program, assesses the cost of the traditional court and treatment process, and evaluates which agencies contribute to the drug court and traditional court process and at what cost. Findings are to be provided to Snohomish County officials via a draft evaluation report, a final evaluation report and a presentation of the final report to Snohomish County, including the County Council, Superior Court Judges and the Chemical Dependency/Mental Health Program Advisory Board by December, 2013.

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King County Risk Assessment

Spokane Valley Community Court

Evaluation of the HUB Project

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