Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Laurel Bidwell


Social Work


Research has shown that the prison population and recidivism rate of criminal offenders have continued to rise over the last thirty years (Coll, Stewart, Juhnke, Thobro, & Haas, 2009). In response, professionals are implementing techniques, such as risk-need assessments, to assist in lowering recidivism. These assessments are empirical tools that professionals use when interviewing offenders to identify their risk of recidivism (Barber-Roja & Rotter, 2015). Previous research has been focused on assessment’s predictive accuracy, but there is less data on professionals’ perceptions regarding which measures are most effective (Labrecque, Smith, Lovins, & Latessa, 2014). Studies have shown that corrections professionals and treatment providers have interpreted assessment results differently (Marlowe, 2012). In the current study, a quantitative survey with some qualitative elements was used to examine the following questions:

1) What aspects of risk-need assessments do different criminal justice professionals find important to effectively examine offenders’ risk of recidivism and treatment needs, and 2) How do professional values relate to offenders’ assessment results? Findings have shown that among the 51 respondents, a majority of the sample found risk-need assessments to be effective, as well as useful for treatment purposes. However, significant differences emerged between the occupational groups in the areas of ethical domains and strengths. Results indicate the need for policies to be created to ensure that professionals performing assessments possess qualifying criteria. Implications for social work practice are explored in the context of this paper.

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