Probation’s Risk-Needs Assessment Process in a Nutshell

For the past few years, the Section of Community Corrections of the Division of Adult Correction has been transitioning to what they call “evidence-based practices,” or EBP. The basic idea is to use series of assessment tools to identify which offenders are mostly likely to reoffend and most in need of programming, and then tailor their supervision accordingly. The process involves  some terminology that is probably familiar by now to most probation officers, but may be less familiar to judges, lawyers, and defendants. Today’s post provides an overview of the process probation officers use to sort probationers into different supervision levels and an introduction into what those levels mean for probationers as a practical matter.

The post includes some charts and images that didn’t render very well in our blog software, so it’s available as a .pdf file here. I hope you’ll take a look.

5 comments on “Probation’s Risk-Needs Assessment Process in a Nutshell

  1. NC-CURE is the NC Chapter for Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants, see We are a non-profit grassroots organization who advocate for family and prisoners in NC. Are initiatives focus on people incarcerated in NC however lately we have been inundated with questions re; probation from family, friends and prisoners alike. Currently we are working with an inmate whose crime took place in 2006, convicted in 2007 felony E&G. His plea bargain states he will do 24 months supervised probation and 120 days suspended sentence. Our question is what part if any of the JRA will apply to him?? it appears after speaking with his PO Officer they have him under the new rules we are confused they refer to his probation as parole…and that his probation will be set up through the parole commission. Could you provide information on probation under the JRA pertaining to probationers waiting to be released whose crimes were prior to Dec. 2011, it would appear that his probation officer is confused along with others.

  2. […] As of the end of September, three quick dips had been imposed statewide. That’s surprisingly low, but I think several factors conspire to keep the numbers down. First, probation officers only have authority to impose quick dips for offenders on probation for offenses committed on or after December 1, 2011. S.L. 2011-192, sec. 1(l). Those offenders are just now starting to come onto probation in large numbers. Second, even for statutorily eligible offenders, the Division of Adult Correction delayed use of quick dips until July 2, 2012, to allow for policy development and training. Third, quick dip authority applies only in Structured Sentencing cases; it is not an option for DWI probationers. G.S. 15A-1343.2(a) (“This section applies only to persons sentenced under Article 81B [Structured Sentencing] of this Chapter.”) And fourth, Community Corrections has chosen as a matter of policy to use quick dip authority only in cases involving relatively serious violations by Supervision Level 1 and 2 offenders—the highest risk, highest need probationers, as described in this prior post. […]

  3. […] predictive tool, nothing that “[w]hen probationers were examined by supervision level [background here], a stair-step progression in interim outcomes and recidivism rates was found.” Report at 48. In […]

  4. […] Probation conducts on every supervised probationer during the first 60 days of supervision—in this post back in 2012. The general idea is to use the results of that assessment process to shape the […]

  5. […] out the directives of Justice Reinvestment and probation law generally, from the big-picture (risk assessment) to the granular (routine drug screening). They answered questions about how probation officers […]