Embrace Risk+Harm+Need Decision-Making
Risk+harm+need decision-making is a new model that incorporates the risk of reoffending, the severity of harm caused and the underlying needs that have to be addressed to prevent future crime.
Why do we need it?
Traditional justice systems primarily base their responses to crime on the severity of the offenses, failing to take into account what most victims want: to make sure the crime doesn’t happen again.
How does it help?
By assessing the severity of the crime, the risk of reoffending and the needs that must be addressed to reduce that risk, this graduated approach provides a much more sophisticated and targeted model for responding to crime. It reserves incarceration for high-risk/high-harm situations and recognizes that people who commit low-level offenses are often at high risk of committing other crimes, but are better served through diversion or alternative sentencing.
Questions To Ask
- How are law enforcement officers trained to incorporate risk into decisions about whether to divert, cite or detain?
- How are we assessing and addressing behavioral health and risk-related needs?
- What diversion options do police have for low-risk/high-need individuals?
- What protocols are in place to address language barriers and ensure cultural relevance?
Forty-two out of 58 counties in California report using some form of a pretrial risk assessment tool.
What does it take to implement?
- Develop a decision-making matrix that identifies graduated responses based on severity of risk+harm+need.
- Incorporate a validated process for assessing risk into each decision point.
- Train law enforcement on the role of implicit bias in decision-making.
- Develop an integrated process to assess and address risk-related needs and behavioral health.
- Commit to keeping low-risk/low-harm individuals out of the system.
- Stop using automatic policies that do not assess risk, such as “cite and release” for misdemeanors.
- Improved assessment by risk and need for each criminal justice decision point.
- Reduction in low-risk individuals in custody and high-risk individuals released pretrial.
- Greater percentage of individuals eligible for and offered community-based sentencing.
- Lowered percentage of individuals referred to diversion who are subsequently cited or detained.