Intake Assessments

Another point–in–time, justice–oriented assessment occurs upon an individual’s entrance into a correctional or juvenile justice facility. These intake assessments are often designed to identify an individual’s security classification, risk of being a target of victimization (or to victimize others), immediate or acute needs for medical or mental health services, and potential housing or rooming assignments, including the need for protective custody or close observation. In addition, screenings or other assessments to identify specific needs for programs and services (e.g., educational or vocational services, chronic health or mental health interventions, substance abuse treatment) should be conducted at this point, and the intake or case management personnel should provide information to offenders about how to access these services.

Ideally, empirically–supported tools to assess these types of non sex offense–specific intervention needs should be used. For example, an instrument such as the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI; Andrews, Bonta, & Wormith, 2004) could be used for adults, and for juveniles, instruments such as the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI; Hoge & Andrews, 1997) or the Massachusetts Youth Screening Inventory–2 (MAYSI–2; Grisso & Barnum, 2001) are good examples. And to identify sex offender–specific intervention needs, the Sex Offender Treatment Needs and Progress Scale (McGrath & Cumming, 2003) can be used for adults, and the Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offense Recidivism (ERASOR; Worling & Curwen, 2001) or the Juvenile Sex Offender Assessment Protocol–II (J–SOAP–II; Prentky & Righthand, 2003) can be used for juveniles. In the event that multiple types of intervention needs are identified through the intake assessment process, recommendations about the sequencing of interventions should be addressed in an intake assessment summary.

For facilities in which sex offense–specific treatment is offered—and particularly when capacity is limited—the intake assessment process provides an ideal opportunity to differentiate sex offenders based on levels of risk and needs and to inform decisions about how to prioritize services accordingly. To facilitate this triaging process, an empirically–validated sex offense–specific risk assessment tool can be used at this juncture, in the event one has not been completed already.

Finally, as part of the intake assessment process, staff should begin to identify factors that may become barriers to successful reentry upon release. As such, case managers and other program staff can begin to consider how best to address these needs as they develop case management plans. With youthful sex offenders specifically, including parents or other caregivers in the assessment process at the point of entry into a residential or correctional facility is important. It offers a key opportunity for facility staff to engage the family by inviting them to offer their perspectives and goals pertaining to intervention needs, and by exploring potential needs that must be resolved prior to the juvenile’s release.

Under ideal circumstances, pre–sentence/predisposition reports and psychosexual evaluations that were conducted prior to placement will be included in offenders’ records at the point of entry into facilities. This provides intake/classification staff with fairly current and complete information about offenders at the outset and reduces duplication of assessment efforts. Ultimately, intake/reception assessments can provide correctional, juvenile justice, and clinical staff within institutions and facilities with a well–informed, assessment–driven basis for case management plans, including strategies to facilitate transition to the community.

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