National Guidelines for Post-Conviction Risk and Needs Assessment

Date: March 1, 2023

Time: 3:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m. Eastern

# CE Hours: 1.5

Not able to attend this free webinar? All registrants will receive a free recording of the webinar if the registration form is submitted.

Webinar Description

Risk and needs assessment (RNA) instruments are used in legal settings in all 50 states to inform decision-making at various stages in case processing. While RNA instruments are recognized widely as the state of science and practice, the past several years have seen a rise in debate and concerns regarding the role they play in legal decision-making and, more specifically, the degree to which they may be worsening racial disparities and contributing to less accurate, fair, and safe decisions. Further, there is increasing emphasis on transparency in the content, outcomes, and use of RNA instruments. These are critical empirical, legal, and ethical issues that merit attention from researchers, practitioners, administrators, and policymakers, alike. Yet, there is limited guidance regarding how these issues should be investigated and addressed. The National Guidelines for Post-Conviction Risk and Needs Assessments were developed to address this gap in the field. Informed by research and reflecting the perspectives of an advisory group comprising nearly 30 researchers, practitioners, and policymakers, the National Guidelines lay out 13 guidelines organized around the principles of accuracy, fairness, transparency, and effectiveness.

During this MHS Public Safety Webinar, Dr. Sarah L. Desmarais, President of Policy Research Associates, Inc., and David A. D’Amora, MS, LPC, CCFC, Senior Policy Advisor with the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, will review the development of The National Guidelines for Post-Conviction Risk and Needs Assessments. Our presenter will also provide an overview of the content and rationale for each guideline and highlight some of the actions that can be taken to adhere to the guidelines in the development, selection, implementation, and evaluation of post-conviction risk and needs assessments.

Learning Objectives: 3-4 Actionable Objectives

At the end of this webinar, you will be able to…

  1. Discuss accuracy, fairness, transparency, and effectiveness as they relate to post-conviction risk and needs assessment.
  2. Describe 13 guidelines for the use of post-conviction risk and needs assessment in practice.
  3. Identify actions that can be taken to advance fairness and transparency in post-conviction risk and needs assessment.

Presenter Biographies

Sarah L. Desmarais, Ph.D., is President of Policy Research Associates, Inc. (PRA), a national leader in behavioral health research, technical assistance, training, and policy evaluation. Dr. Desmarais works on issues at the intersection of public health, community safety, and social justice. Her current research is focused on evidence-based practices for reducing detention rates, especially among people with behavioral health needs. She provides technical assistance, evaluation, and training services to behavioral health, criminal justice, and intelligence agencies on problems and solutions for implementation, policy, and practice.

Dr. Desmarais has authored more than 130 peer-reviewed publications in journals, including the American Journal of Public Health, Criminal Justice and Behavior, and Law and Human Behavior. She has served as principal investigator and co-investigator on grants and contracts from foundations and government agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Justice, and the MacArthur Foundation, among others.

David A. D’Amora is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Council of State Governments (CSG), Justice Center. He advises on risk and needs assessment, correctional programming, and the intersection of behavioral health and criminogenic needs. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, David worked in the criminal justice and behavioral health fields for more than 45 years. This included serving as the vice president of agency programs for a community-based agency providing multiple types of correctional and behavioral health treatment to formerly incarcerated people under community supervision. David was also a clinician at Somers State Prison and Meriden-Wallingford Hospital in Connecticut as well as a consultant with a national criminal justice technical assistance provider. A licensed professional counselor and certified forensic counselor, David earned his BA from Franklin College and his MS at Butler University.

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