Assessing risk and needs: What is the LSI-R?

Assessing risk and needs: What is the LSI-R?

In a majority of our reentry programs, GEO Reentry Services uses the LSI-R to assess participants’ criminogenic needs and recidivism risks. Treatment and intervention are then based on offenders’ LSI-R results.

The LSI-R is a risk/needs assessment tool completed by trained professionals who conduct interviews with the individuals referred to our centers. Professionals may also use supplementary documents from family members, employers, case files and drug tests to help them score participants in 10 different areas or domains: criminal history; education/employment; financial; family/marital; accommodation; leisure/recreation; companions; alcohol/drug problems; emotional/personal; attitude/orientation.

Offenders receive domain scores in addition to an overall score. While domain scores are important, it’s more important to understand how domains interact with one another. For example, someone with a history of alcohol abuse has a higher risk of recidivism if they also have little family support, a history of emotional issues and are not currently employed.

The LSI-R is one of the most researched risk/need tools currently in use today and relies on three principles of effective correctional intervention: the risk principle, the need principle and the responsivity principle.

The risk principle asserts that an offender’s risk should match the level of service they receive. For example, high-risk offenders receive more intensive treatment, monitoring and supervision than low-risk offenders.

The need principle asserts that when dynamic risk factors are changed, there is a subsequent decrease in the likelihood of further criminal behavior. While criminal history is a static risk factor that cannot be changed, there are seven dynamic risk factors that can be affected through treatment and intervention, including antisocial attitudes, antisocial peers, antisocial personality, family, education and employment, pro-social activities and substance abuse needs. Our programs target these dynamic risk factors using evidence-based practices aimed at changing negative thoughts and criminal behaviors. To target the risk factors of education and employment, participants may be required to obtain a job or enroll in school in order to complete the program. GEO Reentry offers a wealth of community resources to help them access these opportunities and meet their other needs.

The responsivity principle asserts that officer or case manager style and mode of intervention should be matched to special offender characteristics. These characteristics include motivation, intelligence, communication barriers, cultural or ethnicity issues, interpersonal anxiety, learning disabilities or brain injuries and whether or not offenders use denial or minimization. Because our participants are assigned case managers for the duration of the program, it’s imperative that they’re matched to like-minded people who can work with them to develop effective, targeted treatment plans. Additionally, our intervention is designed to complement offenders’ learning styles, motivations, abilities and strengths. This design ensures responsivity to the treatment and, ultimately, success in the program.

Effective case management, treatment and intervention begin with an accurate assessment of offenders through the use of the LSI-R. In future blog posts, we will further discuss how the LSI-R is used to predict criminal conduct. In the meantime, we invite you to read more about GEO Reentry.