American Judges Association



Date of this Version



Court Review, Volume 51, Issue 4 (2015)


Copyright American Judges Association. Used by permission.


A new report from the National Center for State Courts shows how 10 different jurisdictions are using risk-and-needs-assessment information when sentencing defendants in criminal cases. This 2015 report specifically follows up on one published in 2011 that provided “guiding principles” for the use of risk-and-needs assessments in sentencing decisions.

The new report looks to see how these 10 jurisdictions are applying the guiding principles. For example, the first guiding principle suggests a limited purpose for the use of the assessment information: “Risk and needs assessment information should be used in the sentencing decision to inform public safety considerations related to offender risk reduction and management. It should not be used as an aggravating or mitigating factor in determining the severity of an offender’s sanction.”