Assessment Instruments: All Areas
60 Instruments Relevant to All Areas:
The Adult Basic Learning Examination (ABLE) is a battery of tests designed to measure the level of educational achievement among adults who may or may not have completed twelve years of schooling. The test has three levels, corresponding to skills taught in grades 1-4, 5-8, and 9-12, and the screening battery can help determine which of the three test levels is most appropriate for the test taker. ABLE is a standardized test of vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, language use, and mathematics. It has been normed with people who are incarcerated. The test requires about 2.5 hours to complete, and the screening test takes about 1 hour to complete.
Developer(s): Bjorn Karlsen and Eric F. Gardner
The Adult Measure of Essential Skills (AMES) is a standardized test of silent reading comprehension, written communication, and mathematics to measure basic workplace and educational skills. The assessment consists of multiple-choice questions, and measures literacy and educational attainment as well as vocational potential. The results may be used to assist correctional staff with job placement for people who are incarcerated. AMES can be administered either individually or in a group setting, and is presently used in 10 states.
Available for purchase here:
The Addiction Severity Index (ASI) is a semi-structured interview designed to measure the severity of both alcohol and drug abuse. The ASI is unique in that both the client and clinician rate the severity of each problem. Because of this clinician-rating component, it is critical that the ASI is administered by a qualified clinician. The ASI guides clinicians in developing appropriate treatment plans upon admission and serves as a measure of client change following treatment. The instrument has been validated with multiple populations and is available in 18 languages, including Spanish and French. A culturally sensitive version developed for the Native American population of North Dakota, the ASI-ND/NAV is also available. The test requires about 30-45 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): A.T. McLellan, L. Luborski, J. Cacciola, J. Griffith, P. McGRahan, Ch. P. O'Brien, The University of Pennsylvania / VA Administration / Center for Studies of Addiction
The Alcohol Use Disorders Identifications Test (AUDIT) contains 10 questions about alcohol use, dependence, and problems associated with alcohol use. The AUDIT has been found to accurately identify those with an alcohol problem and those who do not have an alcohol problem. A study of the use of the AUDIT with prisoners found that scores differed greatly at the point of intake and after 15 days of incarceration. The study’s authors recommended administering the audit for the purposes of identifying the need for treatment or further assessment after the first few weeks of incarceration. Its validity and reliability have been demonstrated with women who are incarcerated. The test requires about 10 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): World Health Organization, Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence
The Basic English Skills Test (BEST) is designed as a task-based assessment of life skills that has two sections. The oral interview section has 50 items and yields five scores for listening comprehension, pronunciation, communication, fluency, and reading / writing. The literacy skills section assesses reading and writing more thoroughly. The first section must be administered individually and to do so is moderately complex. Administration and scoring requires prior training and practice. Little validity data are available; however the test has high inter-rater reliability. The test requires 10-20 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Center for Applied Linguistics
The Brief Jail Mental Health Screen (BJMHS) enables jail staff to screen people who are being admitted to a prison or jail potential serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. It is made up of eight yes or no questions.. BJMHS has been validated in jail settings. It can correctly classify almost three out of four of males being admitted to prisons or jails, but significantly underestimates mental illness in women and does not screen for co-occurring disorders. The screening is used to identify the need for further mental health assessment. In settings (such as jails) where individuals are incarcerated for short periods of time, the screening can be used to identify the need for referrals to community-based mental health services. The test requires about three minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Policy Research Associates
Burns / Roe Informal Reading Inventory
The Burns / Roe Informal Reading Inventory is composed of a series of graded word lists and graded passages to help determine an individual’s reading level. While the test taker is reading aloud, the administrator records any oral reading miscues (insertions, omissions, substitutions, repetitions, mispronunciations, etc.). After reading the selection, the test taker answers comprehension questions about what he or she just read. Answers to these questions illustrate whether the individual is able to understand the main idea, note details, understand causal relationships, and infer information. Validity and reliability data are not available because the test is not standardized, but reviewers report that its design is sound. The test takes 30 minutes to administer.
Developer(s): Paul C. Burns and Betty D. Roe
The Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye-Opener (CAGE) is a screening tool used to detect alcohol dependency. The CAGE is a brief questionnaire, consisting of four questions, structured in a “have you ever” format that is applicable to the interviewee’s past or present. Answering Yes to two questions provides strong indication for substance abuse or dependency on alcohol. Answering Yes to three questions confirms the likelihood of substance abuse or dependency; however further assessment is often required. Corrections staff may use this instrument to flag individuals with substance abuse or alcohol issues for further assessment or appropriate treatment services. CAGE may be self-administered or conducted by trained corrections staff. The test�s validity has been demonstrated with substance abusing populations and it is commonly used in criminal justice settings. The test may not identify harmful drinking by pregnant women, who may underreport their alcohol use. The TWEAK assessment was developed as a modified version of the CAGE for this purpose. The CAGE takes less than one minute to complete.
Developer(s): Dr. John Ewing
CAIS™ and JAIS™
The Correctional Assessment and Intervention System™ (or CAIS, used for adults) and the Juvenile Assessment and Intervention System™ (JAIS) were designed to provide criminal justice personnel with integrated assessment tools which identify evidence-based supervision strategies that emphasize public safety, rehabilitation, accountability, and criminogenic needs. CAIS™ and JAIS™ employ a single semi-structured interview to derive assessments of risk, strengths, and needs. The results of the interview are scored by an automated response system which produces an individualized case plan including risk, needs, and supervision strategy classifications, as well as recommendations for evidence-based programs and services. CAIS and JAIS include periodic reassessment components to automatically update individual case plans on a continuous basis. A reporting package provides real-time aggregate data reports for client monitoring, agency management and budgeting, and outcome measurement. The web-based system requires no agency investment in hardware or software, MIS redesign, or maintenance. Validity and reliability have been successfully demonstrated through multiple studies. CAIS and JAIS incorporate gender-responsive assessments and interventions to address the unique risk and needs areas of girls and women. Comprehensive training and technical assistance packages are offered.
Developer(s): National Council on Crime and Delinquency
Contact Toni Aleman at 608-831-8882, or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System (CASAS) assesses the ability to perform a number of basic competencies (e.g., reading, listening, and mathematics) in everyday life situations. The system includes more than 80 standardized assessment instruments and is used to place learners in educational programs, diagnose need, and monitor progress. Levels AA, A, B, and C are suitable, respectively, for developmentally disabled, beginning, intermediate, and moderately advanced adult education learners. Level C is substantially easier than the GED test. CASAS content is exclusively life-skill oriented and does not assess specific competencies in substantial depth. The system has been validated, and requires specialized training to administer.
The Circumstances, motivation, readiness, and suitability (CMRS) assessment tool comprises 25 questions that can be used to assess motivation to seek and engage in treatment, and to gauge the appropriateness of treatment for an individual. The CMRS scales are designed to predict treatment retention based on dynamic client factors in four areas: circumstances, or external conditions that influence people to seek treatment; internal motivation, or an individual’s inner desires for change; readiness, or the person’s perceived need for treatment; and suitability for treatment. Tests of the validity of the CMRS have found that it is possible to predict treatment results based on the tool, particularly in therapeutic community (TC) settings. A version of the CMRS is available for prison settings. It can be administered by lay staff (including corrections officers), and requires 10 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): George De Leon, National Development and Research Institute, Inc., Center for Therapeutic Community Research
The Correctional Offender Management Profiling for Alternative Sanctions (COMPAS) system is a statistically based risk and needs assessment specifically designed to assess key risk and needs factors in adult and youth correctional populations and to provide decision-support for justice professionals who must make decisions regarding the placement, supervision, and case-management of individuals in community supervision and correctional institution settings. It achieves this by providing valid measurement and succinct organization of research supported risk/need dimensions. COMPAS scores each individual based on three different types of risk (violence, recidivism, and failure to appear in court) and 19 different criminogenic needs. The software also includes case planning, outcomes measurement, and reports generation modules. The internal Research Division (staffed by five PhDs) and IT Division provide the research and technical support to norm the assessment for the local population and configure the software to local policy and procedure. The time required to administer each battery of tests varies, and can be adapted to the needs of the jurisdiction. A peer reviewed validation study of the COMPAS has been accepted by Criminal Justice and Behavior for publication in the June 2009 edition. An additional independent validation of the COMPAS in a California study by Zhang and Farabee (2007) indicated predictive accuracies comparable to other major instruments.
Developer(s): Northpointe Institute for Public Management, Inc.
The Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified (CSS-M) is a 41 item self-report measure of antisocial attitudes, values, and beliefs related to criminal activity. The CSS-M is composed of five subscales: Attitudes Toward the Law, Court, Police, Tolerance for Law Violations, and Identification with Criminal Others. Respondents rate prosocial and antisocial statements on a 5-point Likert scale from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” Research has established validity and reliability of CSS-M for adult and juvenile populations. There has been limited research to validate the CCS-M on the people committed of sex offenses. The test takes 10-15 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): David J. Simourd, Ph.D
The Diagnostic Interview Schedule IV (DIS-IV) is a structured interview for a psychiatric diagnosis according to DSM-IV criteria. DIS-IV assesses a lifetime history of symptoms and conditions, from childhood to the present. This instrument may be used by corrections staff to identify the mental health needs of incarcerated individuals and refer them to appropriate treatment programs. Since it covers all necessary symptoms, it is self-contained and does not require a follow-up examination to make diagnoses. Its validity has been established with diagnoses of mania, psychosis, and posttraumatic stress, but has been found to overestimate depression among homeless individuals. It has also been validated with jail populations. The interview takes between 60-90 minutes to complete and can be administered by trained corrections personnel. Spanish and English versions are available.
Developer(s): Kathleen K. Bucholz, Linda B. Cottler, Wilson M. Compton, Carol S. North, Lee N. Robins, Kathryn M Rourke at Washington University School of Medicine
The English as a Second Language Oral Assessment (ESLOA) is a diagnostic instrument that measures listening comprehension and oral proficiency at four levels of English proficiency for non-native English speakers. The ESLOA instrument provides an assessment that can be used by corrections staff to determine program placement for each individual. The test uses a booklet of pictures with accompanying questions beginning at Level I. Examinees answer questions through progressive levels of difficulty until they are unable to continue. The ESLOA must be administered by an official test administrator who records the correctness of responses on an answer sheet where scores are computed. Validity and reliability data are unavailable; however its use is standard in educational settings. The exam generally takes 10 to 20 minutes to complete, and is simple to score.
Developer(s): Literacy Volunteers of America
Family Justice Ecomap
The ecomap is a visual representation of a family’s strengths and social and material resources. It also displays positive and conflicted relationships between families and services, and between service agencies. Family case managers can use the ecomap to identify sources of support that people who are being released from prisons and jails can draw upon within their families and communities during the re-entry process.
Family Justice Strength-Based Genogram
Genograms are a type of family-mapping tool that diagrams a person’s family and social network. Family Justice encourages the use of strength-based genograms with families that have a loved one involved in the justice system or at risk of such involvement. The history represented visually reflects not only a family’s challenges (such as health issues and involvement with the juvenile or criminal justice system), but assets, such as education, child care, employment, and religious affiliation. It also displays information such as age and gender, as well as the nature and relative strength of the bonds among members of the family, broadly defined.
Government agencies (particularly parole and probation) as well as community-based organizations are increasingly using strength-based genograms as part of their efforts to change the conversation between workers and people involved in the justice system, to help identify the resources available to these individuals and their families. Participants in this process identify social supports in their lives, often as a result of questions a case manager asks. The tool helps recognize strengths within the family (for example, someone who has been steadily employed), and address issues that may recur across generations (such as harmful involvement with drugs or involvement in the justice system). Information about the family and domestic responsibilities provides a basis for programming and informs reentry planning. The genogram is not intended primarily to document lineage, but to assist case managers in exploring a social network’s patterns and dynamics, including a family’s relationships and strengths.
Developer(s): Family Justice
The Rikers Island Discharge Enhancement (RIDE) is a discharge planning program that uses a one page questionnaire (Form 983) at the time of intake to ascertain an individual’s housing and social service needs in preparation for release from jail. The housing section includes questions about past housing situations, homelessness, and the need for housing assistance upon release. Other sections assess the need for employment, healthcare, identification, transportation, substance abuse treatment, etc. The questionnaire includes a section that jail staff can use to make service referrals.
Developer(s): New York City Discharge Planning Collaboration
The Global Assessment of Functioning (GAF) is an assessment tool that rates the social, occupational and psychological functioning of adults. It can be used by corrections officers to obtain information about an individual’s functioning in order to provide an appropriate mental health treatment. Its validity has been established in community mental health settings. The GAF must be administered by a trained clinician, and takes approximately 3 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): American Psychiatric Association
The Global Appraisal of Individual Needs (GAIN) is a series of instruments that includes a screening, a standardized biopsychosocial intake assessment, and a follow-up assessment. The instruments are designed to measure the recency, breadth, and frequency of problems and service utilization related to substance use, physical health, risk/protective involvement, mental health, environment, and vocational situation. Corrections staff can use results to identify co-occurring disorders and predict treatment outcomes. Instruments and manuals for training staff to administer and interpret them can be accessed online. GAIN instruments have been validated for use with criminal-justice involved adolescents who are receiving substance abuse treatment for marijuana use, and for use with adults under criminal justice supervision. Adolescent and adult versions are available in English and Spanish. The time that each instrument takes to administer varies, ranging from 3 minutes for screenings, to 60 minutes for assessments.
Developer(s): M.L. Dennis, J.C. Titus, M.K. White, J.I. Unsicker, & D. Hodgkins
The General Educational Development (GED) is an exam that is designed to measure the educational and literacy skills that students normally acquire by completing a typical high school program of study. Each of the five tests uses a multiple-choice question format, and every GED candidate must also satisfactorily complete a timed essay on an assigned topic. The GED certificate is a prerequisite for pursuing vocational programs and higher education. Corrections officials can use the results of the exam to place individuals in appropriate educational or training programs. The full length exam takes 7 hours to complete. It must be administered at an official GED test center approved by the GED Testing Service. GED preparation and testing is common in prison and jail settings. Research has found that people who obtain a GED while incarcerated have significantly lower recidivism rates.
Developer(s): American Council on Education
The General Statistical Index of Recidivism (GSIR) is an assessment tool that reviews an individual’s criminal record for 15 risk related items. The 15 items are a combination of demographic characteristics and criminal history which are scored and summed to provide five probabilities of risk for recidivism ranging from poor to very good. A report on its use among day parolees in Canada found that the instrument valid for predicting outcomes among parolees, but the instrument does not predict violent or sexual recidivism.
Developer(s): J. Nuffield, Canada Department of Justice
Available at the Canada Department of Justice, Research and Statistics Division here:
The Hostile Interpretations Questionnaire (HIQ) is an instrument that measures an individual’s propensity towards hostile interpretations in social situations and interactions. It includes four subscales that measure components of hostility (attribution, external blame, hostile reaction, and overgeneralization) and five subscales that assess the social context that elicits hostility (acquaintance, anonymous, authority, family, and work). Its validity has been established against other anger assessment instruments. Its developer reports that, while research has not demonstrated a link between anger/hostility and recidivism, corrections staff can use the HIQ’s subscales to target interventions by identifying situations that elicit hostility, such as intimate/family settings. The instrument comprises 28 items and it requires approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): David J. Simourd, Ph.D., & Joelle M. Mamuza, Ph.D
The Jesness Inventory-Revised (JI-R) that has been normed to the general population and to adults and juveniles involved in the criminal justice system. The questionnaire assesses various levels of functioning, and includes 11 personality subtype scales that measure key traits and attitudes, including Social Maladjustment, Manifest Aggression, Value Orientation, Withdrawal-Depression, Immaturity, Social Anxiety, Autism, Repression, Alienation, Denial, and Asocial Index. The JI-R also provides subtype evaluation with nine distinct subtype areas: Undersocialized/Active, Undersocialized/Passive, Conformist, Group-Oriented, Pragmatist, Autonomy-Oriented, Introspective, Inhibited, and Adaptive. It includes 160-item true/false items and validity scales to assess potentially invalid response patterns. The tool requires 20-30 minutes to administer.
Developer(s): Carl F. Jesness, Ph.D.
The Level of Care Utilization System (LOCUS) for Psychiatric and Addiction Services is a dynamic tool that assesses immediate care needs and monitors changes in level of care recommendations. The tool includes six evaluation parameters: risk of harm; functional status; medical, addictive, and psychiatric co-morbidity; recovery environment; treatment and recovery history; and engagement. LOCUS provides a structured process for assessing immediate service needs, organizing clinical and bio-psychosocial information, determining in a standardized manner the level of care needed during incarceration, and monitoring progress over time. The tool includes a level of care determination grid and decision-making tree. The tool’s developers report encouraging preliminary reliability and validity data. LOCUS requires a trained clinician to administer.
Developer(s): American Association of Community Psychiatrists
The Level of Services Inventory-Revised (LSI-R) is a 54 item rating scale that measures static factors related to an individual’s risk of committing a new crime and identifies dynamic areas of risk and need that may be addressed through programming. Areas evaluated by the LSI-R include criminal history, leisure / recreation, education / employment, associates, finances, substance abuse, family / marital status, emotional / personal well-being, housing, and attitude. The LSI-R may be administered at intake to aid in security classification and programming decisions. The instrument is also commonly used to determine and modify levels of community supervision. Research on the validity of the LSI-R indicates that certain items and sub-scales are more closely correlated with recidivism than others, in part because inter-rater reliability can be difficult to achieve on many of its items. Among the sub-scales, one study found that the general risk/need score correlated highly with general recidivism. It also predicted recidivism among subgroups of people convicted of sexual offenses, domestic violence, and people with mental health problems. The specific risk/need scale produced a slightly higher correlation with violent recidivism. The LSI-R requires 30-45 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Donald A. Andrews and James Bonta
The Level of Services Inventory-Revised: Screening Version (LSI-R: SV) consists of eight of the 54 items contained in the full Level of Services Inventory-Revised (LSI-R). The eight items cover four risk factors: criminal history, criminal attitudes, criminal associates, and antisocial personality patterns. It also samples the domains of employment, family relationships, and substance abuse. The LSI-R: SV was designed to provide a brief and inexpensive means to establish whether the full LSI-R should be administered, and is not intended as a stand-alone assessment instrument. It takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Donald A. Andrews and James Bonta
The Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST) can be used to identify alcohol problems that warrant further assessment. The test contains 24 items, and is designed to provide a rapid and effective screening for lifetime alcohol-related problems and alcoholism. Research has established its reliability and validity in a number of settings. The MAST has been widely used with prisoners, but has not been normed to specific subgroups. The test takes about 8 minutes to complete, and it can be self-administered or administered by an interviewer.
Developer(s): Melvin L. Selzer, M.D.
The Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI) is a screening tool that can identify individuals in need of further mental health assessment. It is a short structured diagnostic interview that consists of 120 questions that screen for 17 psychiatric disorders for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) and International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). The MINI has been validated against longer mental health assessments of DSM-IV criteria, and is available in 43 languages. It has been used to study mental health issues in jails, does not help clinicians or corrections personnel clarify if symptoms are due to substance use rather than to major mental illness. It takes 10-15 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): David V. Sheehan, M.D., M.B.A., Yves Lecrubier, M.D.
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 (MMPI-2) is a broad-based test designed to assess a number of major patterns of personality, emotional, and behavioral disorders. It consists of 567 true/false statements and includes internal checks for validity. MMPI-2 has been found to accurately assess clinical condition, screen for substance abuse, and predict adjustment to correctional settings. In a study of its validity in a prison setting, the test was slightly less likely to have produced valid profiles in women and African-Americans; but produced valid profiles in 79% of cases overall. The test not an effective assessment with adults convicted of sex offenses. It is available in English, Spanish, French (Canadian) and Hmong. It takes 60-90 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Starke R. Hathaway, PhD, and J. Charnley McKinley, MD
The Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool-Revised (MnSOST-R) is currently being used by the Minnesota Department of Corrections as an assessment tool to predict the risk of arrest for a new sexual offense among individuals convicted for rape and intra-familial child molestation. The tool comprises 12 historical variables (such as number and type of sexual offenses), and 4 institutional variables (including disciplinary history, participation in drug treatment, participation in sex offender treatment, and age at release). The test produces scores that are divided into six levels of risk. In a comparative study of five sex offender risk assessments, the MnSOST-R predicted general recidivism but did not significantly predict serious or sexual recidivism. This could have been due to its inclusion of institutional factors, or the complexity of its use. The assessment requires trained staff to administer, and can be used at the time of release from a correctional facility or the beginning of a period of community supervision.
Developer(s): Douglas L. Epperson, Ph.D.; James D. Kaul, Ph.D.; Stephen J. Huot, M.Eq.;
Denise Hesselton, M.A.; Will Alexander, Ph.D. Candidate; and Robin Goldman, M. A.
The Novaco Anger Scale and Provocation Inventory (NAS-PI) assesses cognitive, physiological, and situational contributors to anger. The NAS-PI is used to assess anger reactivity, anger suppression, and change in anger disposition It is composed of two parts: The Novaco Anger Scale (60 items), which assesses how an individual experiences anger; and the Provocation Inventory (25 items), which identifies the kind of situations that induce anger in particular individuals. The NAS-PI can be administered as a whole, or the two parts can be used independently. A study of the NAS with people who were incarcerated for violent offenses found that its scores were not correlated with prior convictions, institutional misconduct, or postrelease performance. This tool is in the form of a self-reporting questionnaire, and takes 25 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Raymond W. Novaco, Ph.D.
The Norbeck Social Support Questionnaire (NSSQ) assesses the level of social support available to an individual. Respondents are asked to list each significant person in their lives who provides personal support to them. The instrument measures multiple components of social support including functional properties of social support (e.g., emotional and tangible support) and network properties (e.g., stability of relationships, frequency of contact), as well as eliciting descriptive data about recent losses of supportive relationships. The instrument’s validity and reliability have been demonstrated; however the tool was developed and normed to female graduate nursing students, and may not be generalizable to people who are incarcerated or under community supervision. It is available in English and Spanish.
Developer(s): Jane S. Norbeck et al.
The Offender Profile Index (OPI) was developed in 1987 by the National Association for State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) in concert with the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The instrument measures 10 core areas: drug severity, family support, social support, educational history, employment history, housing, criminal justice involvement, psychiatric profile, previous treatment, and engagement in behaviors that put the individual at risk for contracting HIV. The OPI is a classification instrument used to sort individuals into an appropriate treatment intervention, not a comprehensive needs assessment tool. The assessment is self-scoring; may be administered by any trained professional; and can be completed in 30 minutes.
Developer(s): Dr. James Inciardi and Dr. Duane McBride
The Payment Ability Evaluation is a seven-page form that probation officers in Maricopa County, Arizona use when payments of restitution and probation fees are delinquent for more than 30 days. By itemizing an individual’s monthly income, monthly expenses, assets, etc., the evaluation enables officers to assess an individual’s ability to make payments towards fines, fees, and restitution.
Developer(s): Maricopa County Adult Probation Department
The Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI) is an assessment tool used to measure mental health problems, substance abuse disorders, and motivation for treatment, among other factors. The PAI provides information to assist screening, diagnosis, and treatment. PAI contains 344 items comprising of 22 nonoverlapping scales that assess different factors, including clinical symptoms, treatment needs, and interpersonal dynamics. Research has tested the validity of various subscales in criminal justice settings, with mixed results. Among women who are incarcerated, the antisocial features scale (ANT) and aggression (AGG) scales have been shown to predict recidivism. The validity of the substance abuse scales has been weak, in part due to the likelihood of people under criminal justice supervision to underreport their substance abuse. The PAI is self-administered and requires a Grade 4 reading level. It takes 50-60 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Lesley C. Morey
The Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) is a 20-item, interview-based instrument that measures psychopathic attributes in individuals. Clinicians score each item on a scale of 0 (not present) to 2 (definitely present). The instrument measures two major factors that are correlated with psychopathy: a disregard for the feelings and rights of others, and the presence of persistent antisocial behavior. The instrument has been validated with adult males in institutional and community corrections settings, and its reliability has been established with women who are incarcerated. The instrument’s developer strongly cautions that, because the label of psychopathy can have lasting effects in an individual’s life, the PCL-R should only be used by trained mental health clinicians and with populations with which the instrument has been validated. The PCL-R takes 1-2 hours to complete and score.
Developer(s): Robert D. Hare, Ph.D.
The Reading Evaluation Adult Diagnosis (Revised) (READ) is an evaluation of adult reading skills. It includes three parts that measure sight-word recognition, word analysis, and reading or listening comprehension. The test’s reading difficulty ranges up to that of Grade 5. There is little validity data available and reviewers report that its manually scoring requirements can be moderately complex. The test does not have a time limit for completion.
Developer(s): Literacy Volunteers of America
Relational Inquiry Tool
With support from the National Institute of Corrections, Family Justice developed the Relational Inquiry Tool in partnership with state departments of corrections in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Oklahoma, and the Safer Foundation in Chicago. The tool is a list of eight carefully crafted questions supported by a training module. The Relational Inquiry Tool is designed for use by corrections staff providing day-to-day case management and for developing reentry plans. As a complement to standard risk and needs assessments, the tool helps staff learn about a key resource for successful reentry: families and social networks.
The goals of the tool are:
- To provide staff with a user-friendly method of recognizing and reinforcing positive connections to family and social networks during and after incarceration
- To build rapport between the professional using the tool and the incarcerated individual
The American Correctional Association’s Corrections Today published an article about the Relational Inquiry Tool in its December 2007 issue. Read the article here.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Family Justice is developing a second version of the tool, the Juvenile Relational Inquiry Tool.
The Risk Management System (RMS) is a computerized tool for evaluating recidivism risk and programmatic needs. The system uses modeling software to generate reports that compare an individual’s scores in a number of domains with that of the general population. Corrections, community corrections, treatment program, and judicial personnel can use these reports to inform treatment, programming, and supervision decisions. By using web-based software, RMS enables agencies seeking advanced risk assessment to receive reports on individuals’ risks and needs while being able to continue to use their existing data management systems.
Developer(s): Modeling Solutions, Inc.
The Rapid Risk Assessment for Sexual Offense Recidivism (RRASOR) is a brief 4-item actuarial instrument to predict sexual recidivism among males who have been convicted of at least one sexual offense. This instrument focuses on measuring static factors and relies on information obtained in administrative files. The predictor variables that the instrument assesses are extrafamilial victims, male victims, prior sexual offenses, and age of release. Test scores range from 0-6. The instrument’s validity in predicting sexual recidivism has been established by research, but it does not predict nonviolent or general recidivism as well as other instruments. It must be administered by trained corrections staff.
Developer(s): Dr. R.K. Hanson
Dr. R.K. Hanson, Senior Research Officer
340 Laurier Avenue West, 11th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1A 0P8
The Self Appraisal Questionnaire (SAQ) is a multidimensional, self-administered questionnaire designed to predict violent and nonviolent recidivism. This 72 item tool measures criminogenic risk / need and generates a total score and seven subscale scores. The subscales measure Criminal Tendencies, Antisocial Personality Problems, Conduct Problems, Criminal History, Alcohol/Drug Abuse, Antisocial Associates, and Anger. The SAQ can be used by parole officers, case managers, and corrections officers in determining correctional programming and institutional security levels. Researchers report that the instrument has high reliability and validity with male prisoners. The instrument can be administered by corrections staff and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete. It short administration time makes it appropriate for use in jail settings.
Developer(s): Wagdy Loza, PhD
The Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR (SCID) is a semi-structured interview that allows an experienced mental health clinician to tailor questions to fit the patient’s understanding of his or her symptoms; to ask clarifying questions; to challenge inconsistencies; and to make clinical judgments about the seriousness of symptoms. It assesses 33 of the more commonly occurring psychiatric disorders described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV). The SCID requires a licensed mental health professional to administer and takes 90 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Michael B. First, Robert L. Spitzer, Miriam Gibbon, and Janet B.W. Williams
The Salient Factor Score (SFS) is a device that assesses an individual’s risk of violating parole if he or she is released to community supervision. It was developed for the United States Parole Commission and is a component of the Commission’s guidelines for making parole release decisions. The Salient Factor Score comprises six criminal history items which are added together to produce a score of 0-10 points. A higher score indicates that an individual is less likely to violate parole. The Salient Factor Score provides a guideline for the amount of time an individual should serve before being released to community supervision.
Developer(s): United States Parole Commission
The Statistical Index of Recidivism (SIR) is an assessment tool that reviews an individual’s criminal record with 15 risk related items. The 15 items are a combination of demographic characteristics and criminal history which are scored and summed to provide five probabilities of risk for recidivism ranging from poor to very good. The instrument does not predict recidivism for sexual or violent offenses.
Developer(s): J. Nuffield, Canada Department of Justice
The Stages of Change Readiness and Treatment Eagerness Scale (SOCRATES) is an assessment instrument designed to assess readiness for change in people with drug or alcohol problems. The instrument is a 19-item scale that yields three scale scores: Recognition, Ambivalence, and Taking Steps. Its validity and reliability have been established in non-corrections settings (with veterans and military service personnel). Information about its validity with prisoners is not readily available; however it is used in prisons in the United States. The tool can be administered by corrections staff and is also available in Spanish.
Developer(s): W.R. Miller and J.S. Tonigan
The Sex Offender Needs Assessment Rating (SONAR) is an instrument that measures change in risk level for individuals convicted of sex offenses. SONAR measures five dynamic variables that change slowly over time: intimacy deficits; negative social influences; tolerant attitudes toward sexual offending; self-regulation of sexual urges; and general self-regulation. It also measures four dynamic risk factors that can change quickly: substance abuse; negative mood; anger; and opportunities for access to victims. The tool requires a community supervision personnel to track these factors over time to identify changes in risk level and make treatment and supervision decisions based on these findings. Researchers report that the tool improves upon other formal risk assessments (e.g., the VRAG), but that the tool has only moderate validity and reliability on its own.
Developer(s): R.K. Hanson and Andrew Harris
James Bonta, Ph.D.
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada
340 Laurier Avenue West
The Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG) is an actuarial tool designed to predict sexual recidivism among males convicted of sex offenses. It is a modified version of the VRAG, and is focused on measuring 14 static risk factors. The tool enables corrections personnel to calculate the probability that a convicted individual will commit a new offense (including sex offenses) within a specific period of time in which the person under correctional supervision has community access. Research has shown that the SORAG predicts sexual recidivism at a significantly higher rate than other sexual risk assessment tools, and has also been shown to predict violent recidivism. It is a static tool and cannot be used to tailor treatment or measure progress.
Developer(s): Vernon L. Quinsey, Ph.D
The Slossom Oral Reading Test (SORT) is a brief screening test designed to assess a person’s reading level. This instrument is not a diagnostic measure nor does it measure all aspects of reading such as word knowledge and comprehension. SORT can be used by corrections officers to determine the educational needs and placement for people who are incarcerated. Basic administration and scoring procedures are printed on each protocol and may be conducted by a trained professional. The assessment takes approximately 3-5 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): Richard L. Slosson and Charles L. Nicholson
The Static 99 is a 10-item risk prediction instrument designed to estimate the probability of sexual and violent reconviction for adult males who have already been either charged with or convicted of at least one sexual offense against a child or nonconsenting adult. The instrument measures static factors using question sets that cover three different areas: demographics, criminal history, and victim information. The Static 99 was created by combining items from two older risk assessment instruments: the Rapid Risk Assessment for Sexual Offense Recidivism (RRASOR) and the Structured Anchored Clinical Judgment-Minimum (SACJ-Min). In a comparison of the Static-99 and its successor, the Static-2002, the instruments were found to predict general, violent, and sexual recidivism. However, little evaluation data is available for the Static-2002.
Developer(s): R. Karl Hanson, Ph.D. and David Thornton, Ph.D.
The Sexual Violence Risk-20 (SVR-20) is an instrument used to assess for the presence of risk factors for sexual violence and to develop risk management plans. The 20 factors featured in the risk assessment were identified through a review of sexual recidivism literature, and fall into three main categories: Psychosocial Adjustment, Sexual Offenses, and Future Plans. The SVR-20 manual provides information for administrators on its use. Little validity or reliability data are available; its utility lies in its ability to help structure clinical assessments.
Developer(s): Douglas R. Boer, PhD, Stephen D. Hart, PhD, P. Randall Kropp, PhD, Christopher D. Webster, PhD
The Tests of Adult Basic Education assesses a broad range of literacy and work-related skills. There are four levels of the test corresponding in difficulty to grades 2-4, 4-6, 6-8, and 8-12. TABE is a standardized test that measures vocabulary, reading comprehension, language mechanics, language expression, spelling, mathematical calculation, and mathematical concepts and application. The scores on the TABE have been moderately correlated with comparable scores on the GED. The TABE has been normed with people in adult and juvenile correctional facilities. The full TABE takes approximately 4.5 hours to administer. For this reason, many programs use only one or two sections for pre- and post-testing purposes. A locator test is also available to match individuals’ learning skill levels to appropriate test levels.
Developer(s): John P. Sabatini et al
The Traumatic Antecedents Questionnaire (TAQ) is a self-administered tool that assesses the type and frequency of traumatic events experienced across an individual’s lifespan. The TAQ asks for the frequency (never, rarely, commonly) of experiences assigned to 11 domains ranging from positive experiences to negative experiences such as neglect and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Each type of experience is separately assessed for four developmental periods: early childhood, middle childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. This tool can be used to assess the need for trauma-centered programming, where it is available in corrections settings.
Developer(s): J.L. Herman, J.C. Perry, and B.A. van der Kolk
TCU Criminal Thinking Scales (TCU CTS) is a supplement to the CJ-CEST-Intake and CJ-CEST and is designed to measure “criminal thinking.” The 6 CTS scales include Entitlement, Justification, Power Orientation, Cold Heartedness, Criminal Rationalization, and Personal Irresponsibility which represent concepts with special significance in treatment settings for correctional populations. (5-10 minutes)
Developer(s): Institute of Behavioral Research, Texas Christian University
The Texas Christian University Drug Screen II (TCU-DSII) is a screening tool that enables corrections staff to quickly identify individuals who report heavy drug use or dependency and therefore might be eligible for treatment. Questions are based on the DSM-IV and the National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule. It is well validated, and commonly used in corrections settings, and to determine eligibility for alternatives to incarceration (e.g., court). (TCU has also developed a number of other substance abuse, HIV risk behavior, and program planning assessments for clients and for staff; however the TCU-DSII is most commonly used). The screening takes 5-10 minutes to complete. English and Spanish versions are available.
Developer(s): Institute of Behavioral Research, Texas Christian University
The Traumatic Symptom Inventory (TSI) is a 100-item screening tool to evaluate various forms of posttraumatic distress and symptomatology, including the effects of rape, domestic violence, physical assault, natural disasters, and childhood abuse. The TSI assesses a wide range of psychological impacts, including symptoms typically associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and intra-and interpersonal difficulties associated with chronic trauma. The tool requires approximately 20 minutes to complete, and may be administered by corrections staff. This tool can be used to assess the need for trauma-centered programming, where it is available in corrections settings.
Developer(s): Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc
Available for purchase at 1-800-331-TEST or here:
Psychological Assessment Resources, Inc
P.O. Box 998, Odessa, FL 33556
The University of Rhode Island Change Assessment (URICA) is a 32 item tool used to assess an individual’s readiness to change. It is based on Prochaska’s stages of change theory, and measures each of the four stages of change on a 5 point Likert scale: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Action, and Maintenance. Various combinations of these measures produce composite scores that are used to assess overall readiness and commitment to change.
A study of its use with men who were incarcerated found that only one of measures correlated with staff assessment of treatment engagement, and that the composite scores were negatively correlated with treatment outcome; however the study sample size was small and this finding may not be generalizable to other settings. The test is self-administered and takes 5-10 minutes to complete.
Developer(s): C. C. DiClemente and S.O. Hughes
The Violent Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) is a tool used with people with mental illness who have been convicted of violent offenses to predict the risk of violence within a specific time frame following release. It uses the clinical record, particularly the psycho-social history component, as the basis for scoring as opposed to an interview or questionnaire. VRAG was initially developed to assess recidivism among people with mental illness, and considers 12 items including personality disorder, schizophrenia, age, marital status, and criminal record. In a comparative study with five other risk assessment instruments, the VRAG was found to predict general, violent, and sexual recidivism.
Developer(s): Vernon Lewis Quinsey, Grant Thomas Harris, Marnie Elizabeth Rice, and Catherine A. Cormier
Waiver of Court Fees and Costs
The application for a Waiver of Court Fees and Costs is used in all California courts to determine whether a defendant is eligible for having his or her court costs waived due to financial difficulty. The form assesses income levels, and eligibility for a number of programs that confirm financial difficulty, including Temporary Aid to Need Families (TANF), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and food stamps. The form, while used in courts, can also be used by corrections, probation, and parole staff to determine an individual’s ability to pay his or her court-ordered financial obligations.
Developer(s): Judicial Council of California
The Writing Range Achievement Test (WRAT) is a brief screening test that measures reading recognition, spelling, and arithmetic computation skills. It can be administered to determine if a more comprehensive achievement test is needed. Level two of the test is normed for people ages 12 and over. The test takes approximately 15-30 minutes to administer and five minutes to score.
Developer(s): Gary S. Wilkinson, PhD
CSG does not endorse any of these instruments