Spotlight on Responsivity
General responsivity calls for the use of cognitive-behavioral approaches to treatment as such approaches have been shown to be most effective with offenders as a whole.
Specific responsivity, however, acknowledges that non-criminogenic needs may help or hinder the provision of and response to treatment, thus they need to be addressed in order to maximize recidivism reduction.
A major factor in achieving responsivity is the dosage or intensity of programming and controls. Higher risk and greater needs require more intensive interventions. To guide responsivity, the RNR Simulation Tool matches offenders to a level of programming and controls based on their risk level and criminogenic needs.
The concept of RNR is considered a best practice for corrections (Taxman, 2006) and has been shown to effectively reduce recidivism by as much as 35% when implemented in certain settings (Bonta & Andrews, 2007). Research has shown that non-adherence to the RNR principles in service delivery is not only ineffective, but can also be detrimental to offender treatment outcomes (Lowenkamp & Latessa, 2005). One study examining the effectiveness of treatment programs reported a substantial negative correlation (r = -.28) between risk level and treatment effect size for a program that did not adhere to the RNR principles (Bonta, Andrews & Wormith, 2006).
Why do we need a Risk-Need-Responsivity Tool?
• Reducing criminal behavior and improving public safety can best be achieved by matching offenders to services that are consistent with the behaviors that drive their criminal activity.
• The current distribution of treatment services to offenders in prison, jail and community corrections is inconsistent with the needs of the offender. Significant improvements in reducing recidivism cannot be made unless this gap in services is closed.
• There is a pressing need to help jurisdictions develop guidelines as to how to allocate offenders into appropriate services including what services need to exist.