Practical Guide to Youth Risk and Need Assessments in Latin America and the Caribbean

En español

Risk Need Assessments (RNA) are standardized tools to help determine the likelihood of recidivism, or the odds of getting into trouble again. This could mean being rearrested, reconvicted, or reincarcerated. Despite the proven benefit of using RNA tools in high income countries to take the guesswork out of preventing reoffending, RNA tools are less commonly found in low- and middle-income settings, where crime and violence may be prevalent with impunity.

Risk assessments have two functions, not one: estimate the risk, but also, according to risk, propose a type of treatment. So, if you only use it for one function, you’re missing out on the most important and richest part of the instrument. (p. 53)

In 2021, an interactive online Risk Need Assessment Guide was commissioned by USAID, through the Latin America and Caribbean Youth Violence Prevention project. John Jay College of Criminal Justice conducted research on current uses of RNAs in the Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region and offered guidance for accessing and using these tools to inform crime prevention planning and service delivery to individuals at greatest risk of committing crime.

This guide is designed for people who work with criminal justice or juvenile justice involved youth, including police, judges, correctional personnel, treatment providers, and those working in tertiary prevention programs. The focus of this guide is on tools that help to assess and manage the risk of future delinquency and criminal behavior, including violent behaviors. This guide is specifically focused on assessing the risk of reoffending for use in tertiary prevention settings.

Patricia Campie
Principal Researcher