skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 236819 Find in a Library
Title: Training To See Risk: Measuring the Accuracy of Clinical and Actuarial Risk Assessment Among Federal Probation Officers
Journal: Federal Probation  Volume:75  Issue:2  Dated:September 2011  Pages:52-56
Author(s): J.C. Oleson; Scott W. VanBenschoten; Charles R. Robinson; Christopher T. Lowenkamp
Date Published: September 2011
Page Count: 5
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article presents the methodology and findings of a study that examined whether Federal probation officers were more accurate in assessing risk for reoffending when they used the Federal Post-Conviction Risk Assessment (PCRA) instrument than when they used their own unstructured clinical judgment based on their professional experience.
Abstract: The study found that the Federal probation officers made more consistent and accurate assessments of offender risk when using the PCRA than when using unstructured clinical judgment. These findings support the view that, in assigning offenders to the correct risk category, actuarial prediction outperforms unstructured clinical judgment. The study also found that clinical judgments tended to overestimate risk, making them less cost-effective than judgments based on the PCRA score. This study involved Federal probation officers who attended four regional training meeting during 2010 and 2011. At each site, trainers explained to the officers that they would be asked to assess an offender’s risk based on a videotaped mock intake interview and supplementary written documentation. They were asked to place the offender in the case vignette in one of four risk categories: low, low/moderate, moderate, or high. They were also asked to identify the offender’s three most important criminogenic needs in rank order. The risk levels were not defined, thus leaving the officers to define the risk levels on their own. On the second day of the training, after learning the scoring rules of the PCRA and practicing on several scenarios, probation officers viewed the training vignette for a second time. Instead of using their professional judgment to identify the offender’s risk level and criminogenic needs, they were asked to use the PCRA and calculate a risk score. 2 figures and 54 references
Main Term(s): Corrections management
Index Term(s): Comparative analysis; Needs assessment; Offender classification; Probationers; Risk management; Threat assessment
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.