U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Best Practices for Neglected Assumptions

NCJ Number
Crime & Delinquency Volume: Online Dated: 2023
Date Published
June 2023
29 pages

This article examines Risk-Needs Assessments (RNAs) that allow justice professionals to collect necessary information to classify individuals’ likelihood of recidivism and factors to be addressed through programing associated with risk, need, and responsivity (RNR) principles.


In the assessment world, risk determines “who” to treat and needs determine “what.” Yet, for youth, greater emphasis is placed on needs that target recidivism reduction interventions. Unlike risk, needs represent dynamic domains, or latent constructs, requiring testing to assure adequate measurement. The authors conducted a multi-level, multi-group analysis of the Modified Positive Achievement Change Tool (MPACT) with a 10-state sample of youth (N = 258,464). Findings confirm the validity and reliability of needs domains, and the development of a novel “Global Needs Factor,” a composite summary of needs. Created without criminal history/static measures, needs scales demonstrate predictive accuracy. Further, measurement invariance and aspects of gender and race/ethnicity prediction parity are observed. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: June 1, 2023