Know where you are to guide where you're going: A survey of Risk-Need-Responsivity treatment practices in juvenile correctional programs

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Despite the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model being a preferred method of offender treatment in adults and juveniles, research on this model for juveniles specifically is still in its infancy. This is problematic as the RNR model may not directly apply to juveniles as it stands and may be ineffective, as it was originally created for an adult offender population. Before suggesting change to RNR-based practice already existing in juvenile treatment programs, a survey of preexisting treatment representing RNR principles must first be conducted. Not only does this current study report on the degree to which juvenile justice treatment programs reflect RNR-based practice, but it also takes into consideration a variety of organizational variables found to be meaningful in evidence-based adherence. Findings indicated that the responsivity and need principles were most commonly seen represented in treatment programs. This may be because these principles ask that practitioners engage in practices that have long been considered essential to competent treatment (such as providing many effective therapeutic approaches, revising treatment plans, and providing individualized services). The risk principle was represented the least among treatment sites. With regard to organizational variables, privatization of a treatment facility was observed to most impact the responsivity principle, and sites’ involvement with non-justice organizations was found to most impact total RNR adherence overall.

Risk-Need-Responsivity, Juvenile justice, Juvenile offender treatment, Organizational variables