Evidence-Based Sentencing Learning Objectives • Describe the three principles of evidencebased practice and the key elements of evidence-based sentencing; • Define the potential impact and benefit of these principles and supporting practices on risk reduction among the general offender and the sex offender population; and • Apply these principles to the adult sex offender population. REFORM INTERESTS AND APPLICATION TO SEX OFFENDERS Concerns Among Felony Court Judges and State Chief Justices • Concerns of felony court judges – High rates of recidivism among felony offenders – Ineffectiveness of traditional probation and other sanctions in reducing recidivism – Lack of effective community alternatives to incarceration (Peters & Warren, 2006) Concerns Among Felony Court Judges and State Chief Justices (cont.) • State chief justices’ top reform interests for the state court – Public safety through recidivism reduction efforts Implementation of evidence-based practices and services Use of empirically-based risk and needs assessment tools • Direct application to adult sex offenders (Peters & Warren, 2006) The Rationale for Applying EvidenceBased Practices to Offender Management and Sentencing • Offenders, in general, are failing at alarming rates • 67% rearrested within three years following release from prison • 30% probationers are reconvicted of a new crime • Research over the past two decades demonstrates that – through the use of evidencebased practices – recidivism can be reduced by as much as 30% (Hughes & Wilson, 2003; Andrews & Bonta, 1997) KEY TERMS AND PRINCIPLES IN EVIDENCE-BASED SENTENCING Defining Key Terms • Evidence-Based Knowledge – Conclusions drawn from studies that have been replicated numerous times with defined, measurable outcomes about the effectiveness of an intervention or process • Evidence-Based Practice – The application of empirical research to professional practice Defining Key Terms (cont.) • Evidence-Based Principles – The three “principles” of evidencebased practice that have been derived from the research on risk reduction • Evidence-Based Sentencing – The application of the principles of evidence-based practice to sentencing The Three Key Principles of Evidence-Based Practice The Risk Principle WHO to target for intervention The Needs Principle WHAT to target for intervention The Responsivity Principle HOW to target for intervention (Andrews & Bonta, 2007) The First Key Principle: Risk • Aligning level of intervention with level of risk to produce reduced recidivism • Empirically based, actuarial instruments assess the level of risk an individual offender is likely to pose • More intensive services for higher risk and higher need offenders produce the most significant reductions in recidivism The Risk Principle: Which is True? A) Delivering moderate or high intensity interventions to offenders who are at low risk for recidivism can result in an increase in the likelihood to re-offend. B) Delivering moderate or high intensity interventions to offenders who are at low risk for recidivism can result in a decrease in the likelihood to re-offend. The Second Key Principle: Needs • Criminogenic needs (dynamic risk factors) = changeable conditions in an offender’s life that can lead to re-offense behavior • Actuarial instruments have been developed to assess these "criminogenic needs” • Targeting interventions to the unique criminogenic needs of an individual offender has significant risk reduction potential Criminogenic Need Areas: The “Big Four” • Anti-social cognitions • Anti-social companions • Anti-social personality (temperament) • Family and/or marital difficulties Criminogenic Need Areas: The “Lesser Four” • Substance abuse concerns • Lack of education • Lack of employment • Lack of pro-social leisure activities Recidivism Reductions as a Function of Targeting Multiple Criminogenic vs. Non-Criminogenic Needs Increased recidivism Decreased recidivism More Criminogenic than Non-Criminogenic Needs (Hanson et al., 2009) More Non-Criminogenic than Criminogenic Needs Sex Offender-Specific Dynamic Risk Factors Sexual preoccupations Access to victims Intimacy deficits, conflicts in relationships Pro-offending attitudes Hostility Non-compliance with supervision, treatment Lifestyle instability The Third Key Principle: Responsivity • Treatment and supervision are most effective when tailored to responsivity factors • Primary responsivity factors – Cognitive/intellectual functioning – Culture – Gender – Learning style – Level of motivation – Mental health condition The Three Components of Responsivity Program Components Traits of Service Providers Offender Characteristics Motivational Interviewing as a Key Behavioral Change Tool • Motivational interviewing engages the offender in his/her plan for change • Motivational interviewing is skillbased – The application of specific techniques is critical to its success Motivational Interviewing as a Key Behavioral Change Tool (cont.) • All professionals should be skilled in motivational interviewing – Judges are increasingly using motivational interviewing Impact of Adhering to the Core Principles of Effective Correctional Intervention: Risk, Needs and Responsivity Increased recidivism Decreased recidivism (Andrews et al., 1999) Other Research Findings Identifying Interventions and Strategies that “Work” with Offenders • Cognitive-behavioral interventions • Positive reinforcement • Balanced approach to supervision (Andrews & Bonta, 2007; Aos et al., 2006) RELEVANCE OF RESEARCH TO SEX OFFENDERS Research Findings Identifying Treatment and Supervision Strategies that Generally Don’t “Work” with Offenders • Surveillance models of supervision • Longer sentences over shorter sentences • Punishment-oriented sanctions (Aos et al., 2006) Relevance of These Findings to Sex Offenders • Sex offenders are not “just” sex offenders • Risk/needs/responsivity studies replicated with sex offenders Reducing Risk Among the Adult Sex Offender Population EvidenceBased Practices Sex OffenderSpecific Interventions Risk Reduction Reminder: Definition of Evidence-Based Sentencing Evidence-based sentencing is the application of the principles of evidence-based practice to sentencing. FIVE TENETS OF EVIDENCE-BASED SENTENCING Five Tenets of Evidence-Based Sentencing #1: Expect professionals to provide thorough, complete, and accurate information about offenders so that informed decision-making is possible. Five Tenets of Evidence-Based Sentencing (cont.) #2: On an individual case basis, obtain and apply comprehensive offender assessment data – Level of risk to re-offend sexually – Level of risk to re-offend non-sexually – Sex offender-specific dynamic risk factors – Criminogenic needs Five Tenets of Evidence-Based Sentencing (cont.) #3: When crafting sentences for the purpose of risk reduction, match interventions to empirically assessed, changeable risk factors –Sex offender-specific dynamic risk factors, as well as –Criminogenic needs Five Tenets of Evidence-Based Sentencing (cont.) #4: Use motivational interviewing as a tool to encourage behavioral change among offenders. #5: Encourage and support the use of evidence-based policies and practices by all justice practitioners and service providers.