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Offender Classification And Therapy Essay

1488 words - 6 pages

Over the last few decades classification systems for offenders have been used for a variety of organizational purposes. Over time these classification systems have evolved, not only as a whole in the criminal justice system, but also varying between different organizations. Classification systems that create models based on the risks and needs of offenders are most popular. Throughout the years these models and the purposes for their use have been in a state of change, as well as the way their effectiveness is gaged.
One of the most commonly used classification systems for offenders is the combination of risk assessment and need assessment. The combination of these two systems of classification is rather new. The earliest types of classification focused mainly on offender risks by using custody classification and separating prisoners into minimum, medium, and maximum security (Van Voorhis et al., 2009). Early risks assessments appeared to only focus on historical factors that did not tend to change over time. A supplement of the classification was introduced with the original needs assessment system. The needs assessment was meant to offer information relevant to treatment (Van Voorhis et al., 2009). Unfortunately, the needs assessments were rarely used for the purposes of locating treatment. The introduction of models that combined the two assessments was paramount because it opened assessments up to the idea that factors change over time that influence offenders.
The earliest risk assessment models that used actual scoring were created almost exclusively for use during offender incarceration. However, this is considered the second generation by Andrews and Bonta (2010). The first generation of risk assessment occurred at a time when clinicians used their experience and personal feelings to determine how dangerous an offender could be (Andrews and Bonta, 2010). The second generation was characterized by the custody classification risks and parolees being classified on their risk of reoffending based on their custody classification. These early models were administered routinely but scores rarely changed because the information in the assessment was static and did not change over time (Van Voorhis, et al., 2009). Such information as the severity of prior convictions, and prior felonies did not change between assessments and led to an overly simple classification system that did not offer any options for treatment or change within offender behavior. Additionally, it was proven that the earliest risk assessment models were not accurate in dealing with female offenders because the history of women offenders is not as indicative of future behavior as it is with male offenders (Van Voorhis et al., 2008). While the original risk assessment models were helpful in achieving a basic glance at offender behavior risks, it lacked the quality assessment tools needed to not only determine whether an offender was going to be a danger while institutionalized...

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