Risk Assessment

Publications

Domestic Violence Risk Factor Guide: An Implementation Manual for Civil Courts

Domestic Violence Risk Factor Guide: An Implementation Manual for Civil Courts

This guide provides civil judges and self-represented litigants tools to identify and respond to domestic violence risk factors in civil protective order hearings. It includes two risk factor guide templates. One outlines the domestic violence risk factors for litigants and the legal remedies available to them through the civil protective order process; the other provides judges with clearly articulated risk factors and links them to legal sanctions, conditions, and mandates.

Publications

A Person-Centered Approach to Risk and Need Classification in Drug Court

A Person-Centered Approach to Risk and Need Classification in Drug Court

By Warren A. Reich, Sarah Picard-Fritsche and Michael Rempel

This study suggests relying on summary risk scores alone to decide on treatment options for an important, hitherto under-emphasized, subpopulation of drug court participants may be leading to counter-productive outcomes. For the purposes of the study, 265 New York City drug court participants completed two commonly-used risk and needs assessments: the Level of Service Inventory—Revised, and the Texas Christian University Drug Screen II. By examining the pattern of responses used to compile the summary score, rather than only the score itself, study authors statistically identified three distinct groups of participants. One group was distinguished by the confluence of an extensive criminal history, severe mental health issues, and substantial interference in major life roles from substance use.

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Publications

Demystifying Risk Assessment: Key Principles and Controversies

Demystifying Risk Assessment: Key Principles and Controversies

By Sarah Picard-Fritsche, Michael Rempel, Jennifer A. Tallon, Julian Adler and Natalie Reyes

This paper explains the science underlying risk-based decision-making and explores both the promise and controversies associated with the increasing application of “big data” to the field of criminal justice. While the technology has contributed to important policy reforms, such as the diversion of low-risk groups from jail and prison, debate has arisen over the potential for risk assessments to reproduce existing racial biases, the lack of transparency of some proprietary tools, and the challenge of applying classifications based on group behavior to individual cases. Along with identifying an emerging professional consensus that the careful and ethical implementation of risk assessment tools can improve outcomes, the paper closes with a series of best practices urging jurisdictions adopt a localized, collaborative approach.

Publications

Jail in New York City: Evidence-Based Opportunities for Reform

Jail in New York City: Evidence-Based Opportunities for Reform

This report lays out a series of reforms to significantly reduce New York City's jail population, a move that would also cut costs substantially. To identify ways to safely reduce the use of jail, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice commissioned research on the path of criminal cases from arrest through bail decisions to sentencing. Among the report’s findings:

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Publications

FACT SHEET: Jail in New York City: Evidence-Based Opportunities for Reform

FACT SHEET: Jail in New York City: Evidence-Based Opportunities for Reform

To identify ways to safely reduce the use of jail, the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice commissioned research on the path from arrest through bail to sentencing. The research also examined how much taxpayers spend on incarceration.

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To hear a podcast with the report's lead author

Publications

Evidence-Based Risk Assessment in a Mental Health Court: A Validation Study of the COMPAS Risk Assessment

Evidence-Based Risk Assessment in a Mental Health Court: A Validation Study of the COMPAS Risk Assessment

By Warren A. Reich, Sarah Picard-Fritsche, Virginia Barber Rioja and Merrill Rotter

This study examines the validity of the COMPAS with offenders who have a serious mental illness. A widely used risk-needs assessment tool, the COMPAS was found to be a good predictor of re-arrest with this population, although it was more effective in distinguishing low-risk offenders from all others than in identifying those who pose a medium as opposed to a high risk of re-arrest. Overall, approximately two-thirds of study-participants were classified as low risk. At the same time, more than half of the sample scored in the high range on the important needs domains of substance abuse, criminal personality, and criminal thinking. The study discusses potential implications for using the COMPAS with mentally-ill individuals.

Publications

Reducing Jail and Protecting Victims: A Roundtable on Pretrial Supervised Release

Reducing Jail and Protecting Victims: A Roundtable on Pretrial Supervised Release

By Julian Adler and Katie Crank

In January 2016, jail reduction and victim advocates discussed strategies for including the voices of survivors of crime in implementing pretrial supervised release programs. This document highlights the far-reaching and complicated discussion. The facilitated roundtable was convened by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Center for Court Innovation as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, a national initiative to reduce mass incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

Publications

Implementing Evidence Based Assessment and Treatment Matching: A Feasibility and Impact Study in Three New York City Drug Courts

Implementing Evidence Based Assessment and Treatment Matching: A Feasibility and Impact Study in Three New York City Drug Courts

By Sarah Picard-Fritsche, Michael Rempel, Warren A. Reich, Erin Farley and Ashmini G. Kerodal

This report presents an overview of the feasibility and impact of introducing evidence-based risk assessment and treatment-matching protocols into three established New York City drug courts.

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Publications

Assessment and Treatment Matching: A Case Study of Traditional Practices in Three New York City Drug Courts

Assessment and Treatment Matching: A Case Study of Traditional Practices in Three New York City Drug Courts

By Erin Farley, Michael Rempel and Sarah Picard-Fritsche

The findings in this report are based on an analysis of two years of clinical assessment and treatment placement data in three established New York City drug courts. Findings suggest that case management staff in these courts regularly completed a lengthy bio-psychosocial assessment of each participant, but ultimately relied on a small number of factors related to current and past drug use, social support, employment, and residential stability when making treatment planning decisions. Further, treatment planning decisions were broadly informed by a desire to place drug court participants in the “least restrictive” treatment setting as an initial modality.

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Publications

Responding to Homelessness: 11 Ideas for Justice Systems

Responding to Homelessness: 11 Ideas for Justice Systems

By Raphael Pope-Sussman

This fact sheet explores strategies that jurisdictions around the United States are using to deal with the issue of homelessness. Whether led by law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, or the courts, these approaches seek to address underlying causes and provide the practical support homeless offenders need to stabilize their lives. For each strategy described in this fact sheet, we have also included a case study. 

Publications

 The Adolescent Diversion Program: A First Year Evaluation of Alternatives to Conventional Case Processing for Defendants Ages 16 and 17 in New York

The Adolescent Diversion Program: A First Year Evaluation of Alternatives to Conventional Case Processing for Defendants Ages 16 and 17 in New York

This research report examines the first year of a new pilot program at nine sites in New York State. The impact analysis found that the program did not undermine public safety and was most effective for high-risk youth.

Publications

FACT SHEET: Erie Risk Assessment Pilot

FACT SHEET: Erie Risk Assessment Pilot

This document summarizes early results from a pilot program in Upstate New York that is testing the efficacy of the Domestic Violence Risk Factor Guide for Judges, a risk-assessment tool designed to allow judges to view language in a petition through the lens of risk factors, to gather additional information as needed, and to apply case law and remedies to address the risk indicated by the petition. 

Publications

Coming Home to Harlem: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court

Coming Home to Harlem: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court

By Lama Hassoun Ayoub and Tia Pooler

This study of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court compares participants in a neighborhood-based reentry program to similar parolees on traditional parole. Results indicate that the reentry court, which implemented a validated and reliable tool for assessing the risks and needs of individuals returning from prison, produced a 22% reduction in the reconviction rate and a 60% reduction in the felony reconviction rate over an 18-month follow-up period. The reentry court also produced a 45% reduction in revocations. Interview findings indicate that reentry court parolees were significantly more likely to be in school or employed and to have positive perceptions of their parole officer.

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Listen to an interview with one of the report's authors

Publications

When Research Challenges Policy and Practice: Toward a New Understanding of Mental Health Courts

When Research Challenges Policy and Practice: Toward a New Understanding of Mental Health Courts

By Carol Fisler

Writing in the pages of Judges Journal, Center for Court Innovation Director of Mental Health Court Programs Carol Fisler discusses the implications of a growing body of research on the efficacy of mental health courts. 

Publications

Targeting the Mental Health Needs of Misdemeanor Defendants: An Impact Evaluation of the Bronx Mental Health Initiative

Targeting the Mental Health Needs of Misdemeanor Defendants: An Impact Evaluation of the Bronx Mental Health Initiative

By Tia Pooler

This report evaluates a pilot program that screens misdemeanor defendants for mental health disorders. Those assigned to a brief mental health intervention were significantly less likely to be re-arrested within one year, compared with similar defendants who were not assigned to the intervention. Results were especially positive for female defendants.

Contact
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