Assessments to Develop Initial Supervision/CaseManagement Plans

A final example of criminal or juvenile justice–based assessments involves the development of initial community supervision or case management plans. As a first step in the process, a formal risk assessment allows supervision officers to make an informed determination about the intensity of initial supervision efforts, such as the level of supervision and the use of specific monitoring strategies (e.g., electronic monitoring). As noted previously, interventions are most effective when delivered or applied according to level of risk (i.e., intensive supervision for higher risk sex offenders). For adult sex offenders, some jurisdictions use an empirically–validated sex offender–specific risk assessment tool (e.g., RRASOR, STATIC–99) for this purpose. And with youthful offenders, supervision officers can use the ERASOR or the J–SOAP–II as a means of identifying those youth who may require more intensive supervision based on presumed level of risk.

Beyond establishing risk levels, assessments at this phase are important for identifying the specific supervision targets and the types of risk factors that need to be addressed in the initial supervision or case management plan. A number of empirically–supported or promising assessment measures can by used by supervision officers for this purpose. For example, the Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (LS/CMI; Andrews, Bonta, & Wormith, 2004) is useful with adult offenders for determining “general” recidivism risk and identifying criminogenic needs or dynamic risk factors to be targeted through intervention. The parallel version for juveniles is the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/ CMI; Hoge & Andrews, 1997), which is widely used for assessing general risk and developing individualized intervention plans among justice–involved youth. It should be noted that neither the LS/CMI nor the YLS/CMI are sex offender–specific instruments. These tools are valuable nonetheless for providing the broad foundation of initial supervision and case management plans, particularly in light of the research that demonstrates that when adult and juvenile sex offenders recidivate, it is more likely to be with non–sexual offenses (see, e.g., Langan, Schmitt, & Durose, 2003; Nisbet, Wilson, & Smallbone, 2004).

To assess the dynamic risk factors specifically relevant for supervision planning with adult sex offenders, the Sex Offender Need Assessment Rating (SONAR)—subsequently separated into the STABLE–2000 and ACUTE–2000—is perhaps the most promising tool (Hanson & Harris, 2001). It was designed for supervision officers as a means of providing structure and focus for their monitoring efforts (Hanson & Harris, 2000b, 2001). In addition, the Sex Offender Treatment Needs and Progress Scale (McGrath & Cumming, 2003) can assist supervision officers with identifying dynamic risk factors that will need to be addressed in initial supervision plans, and establishing baseline levels of risk and needs against which changes can be gauged over time.

Similarly, for sexually abusive youth, the JSOAP–II can be used by supervision officers or other case managers to develop individually–tailored supervision plans (the ERASOR is recommended for use by clinicians). Another assessment tool that can assist supervision officers with crafting case management plans for juvenile sex offenders is the Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths–Sexual Development Scale (CANS–SD; Lyons, 2001). This needs assessment tool guides supervision officers through the exploration of a wide range of variables across a number of important domains (e.g., risk behaviors, school functioning, supervision and monitoring needs, caregiver capacity, and family functioning) all of which are important considerations when crafting comprehensive case management plans.

When conducting interviews as part of the assessment process for supervision planning purposes, the style and approach used by the interviewer are important to consider, as they can have an impact on the offender’s engagement in the overall intervention process (Cumming & McGrath, 2005). A specific approach that has become increasingly popular for justice–involved clients—and with sex offenders specifically—is Motivational Interviewing (Miller & Rollnick, 2002; Ginsburg, Mann, Rotgers, & Weekes, 2002). It is designed to help practitioners strategically tailor their approaches based on the client’s level of motivation to change, which can reduce resistance and promote investment.

What one practitioner “sees” with a given offender, and the type of assessment information that is accessible to that practitioner, may only provide part of the picture.

To facilitate the development of fully informed supervision plans, collaboration with the courts, treatment providers, and other members of case management teams is essential. For example, information–sharing policies should allow supervision officers to have access to the pre–sentence/pre–disposition assessment conducted by court personnel and the psychosexual evaluation conducted by a specialized mental health professional. This is important not only for ensuring that any previously identified needs and any unique sex offense–specific risk factors are taken into account in the case management plan, but also for eliminating the unnecessary duplication of assessment efforts. Furthermore, collaboration is important when creating supervision plans because what one practitioner “sees” with a given offender, and the type of assessment information that is accessible to that practitioner, may only provide part of the picture. Supervision plans should, therefore, include assessment information from the range of agencies or professionals involved in the management process.

In summary, through the use of general and offense–specific assessment tools and through multidisciplinary collaboration, supervision officers can ensure that initial case management plans are individually tailored, comprehensive, and focused around the specific targets that are most likely to be effective for reducing recidivism.

Click here to assess your policies and practices in this area.