Youth Risk/Need Assessment: An Overview of Issues and Practices

Appendix One: Description Of Assessment Tools

The following provides an alphabetical list and description of the current risk/need assessment tools used across the country. This list was derived from information obtained from each of the jurisdictions. Additional assessment tools are used in many of the jurisdictions on a discretionary basis. Instruments included in this list are those identified as standard assessments typically administered by provincial and territorial youth criminal justice systems.

Adolescent Chemical Dependency Inventory (ACDI) - Corrections Version II

The ACDI - Corrections Version II is designed for juvenile court, juvenile probation, and juvenile department use. It is used to screen substance (alcohol and other drug) use and abuse, overall adjustment and troubled youth concerns. It is a self-report test for juvenile (14 to 17 years) assessment, which includes 7 scales and 140 items. Intervention, treatment, and probation recommendations are to be made for each of the scales. The 7 scales included in Version II are as follows:

  1. Truthfulness Scale
  2. Violence (Lethality) Scale
  3. Adjustment Scale
  4. Distress Scale
  5. Alcohol Scale
  6. Drugs Scale
  7. Stress Coping Abilities Scale

Competency Base Assessment

This tool is designed to ascertain the strengths, talents, and gifts of a young offender.

Crime Cycle Package (CCP)

The CCP is a risk/need assessment instrument designed to assist in security and case planning decisions. In the Yukon where it is used, it is specifically designed to supplement the Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI). It includes four sections:

1. Crime Cycle Questionnaire

The crime cycle questionnaire is a comprehensive conversation-based interview guide completed with the youth. It extrapolates risk areas identified in the YLS/CMI. It is completed prior to sentencing following a youth's admission of guilt. It can be completed in whole or in part, depending on risk areas identified in the YLS/CMI, or requested by the court. Generally, a court ordered pre-sentence report will include the complete questionnaire. It can be used when information is lacking to fully complete the YLS/CMI.

2. Social History Questionnaire

The Social History Questionnaire is a comprehensive conversation-based interview guide completed with the parents of a young offender. It identifies parental concerns, and includes information on familial history, stages of development, and biological and environmental concerns. It is also used to confirm information obtained from the youth in the Crime Cycle Questionnaire. It is completed prior to sentencing following a youth's admission of guilt or when the court orders a pre-sentence report.

3. Crime Cycle Summary

This tool summarizes and categorizes the Crime Cycle and Social History Questionnaires in order to develop the case management team. It highlights needs and allows for intervention strategies to be assigned to each needs area.

4. Youth Case Plan

The Youth Case Plan is a working document used for case management planning. It identifies needs, case management team responsibilities in meeting those needs, and sets time limits for services to be in place.

Criminal Sentiments Scale (CSS)

The CSS is a 41-item, self-report questionnaire that measures key dimensions of criminal sentiments. It is designed to identify the antisocial attitudes, values, and beliefs that may play a role in the maintenance of antisocial behaviour. Using 5-point agreement scales, the offender reports on attitudes towards the law, courts, and police; tolerance for law violations; and identification with other criminals.

Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST)

The DAST is a 28-item screening instrument for drug addiction other than alcohol. It provides a quantitative index of the severity of problems related to drug abuse.

Family Assessment Tool

A recent tool developed in New Brunswick for use in the Intensive Support and Supervision Program (no other information provided).


The HCR-20 is a broad-band violence-risk assessment instrument. The conceptual scheme of the HCR-20 aligns risk markers into past, present, and future. It consists of 10 historical factors, 5 clinical items designed to reflect current dynamic correlates of violence, and 5 risk management items that focus attention on situational, post-assessment factors that may aggravate or mitigate risk. The HCR-20 takes its name from these three scales - historical, clinical, and risk management - and from the number of items.

Leisure Assessment Tool

Information not provided.

Level of Service Inventory - Ontario Revised (LSI-OR)

The LSI-OR is a standardized instrument used by the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services with adult offenders and Phase II (aged 16 and older) young offenders. It is used to assess risk of recidivism, need for correctional programs to reduce recidivism, and responsivity factors that impact on case plan goals. The tool includes a checklist that produces a detailed survey of the risk, needs, and responsivity factors that are to be used in the formulation of a case plan. It is composed of the following sections:

  • Part A: General Risk/Need Factors, which includes a 43-item scale
  • Part B: Specific Risk/Need Factors
  • Part C: Prison Experience: Institutional Factors
  • Part D: Risk/Need Summary
  • Part E: Risk/Need Profile
  • Part F: Other Client Issues
  • Part G: Special Responsivity Considerations
  • Part H: Program/Placement Decision
  • Part I: Disposition/Sentence Length
  • Part J: General and Specific Risk/Need Factors
  • Part K: Progress Record
  • Part L: Discharge Summary

Offender Risk Assessment and Management System (ORAMS)

The ORAMS consists of a set of tools developed by Manitoba Corrections to assess the different risks offenders pose. It is intended to enhance an institution's ability to identify inmate risk factors and to respond with appropriate security and programs. The ORAMS includes five risk/need assessment scales that can be used with young offenders and a Risk Management Review. The first two are used with young offenders. The Secondary Risk Assessments can be used with youth or adult offenders.

1. Inmate Security Assessment (ISA) - Young Offenders

The objective of the ISA is to obtain information to assess a young offender's threat to him/herself and others in an institution. This includes the potential for dangerous behaviour such as suicide, assaults on other inmates or staff, and escape risk. It is completed upon admission to an institution, for security reasons, and also assists decisions relating to institutional placement or transfer.

2. Primary Risk Assessment (PRA) - Young Offenders

The PRA is a modified version of the Youthful Offender - Level of Service Inventory (YO-LSI). It is used to predict a young offender's risk to reoffend in any type of offence (as opposed to specific types of offences such as sexual or general assault). This information is then used to determine the degree and type of supervision and to assist in the formulation of a case plan. It is designed to be administered upon admission to a correctional system or when preparing pre-sentence reports. (See YO-LSI for more detailed description.)

3. Secondary Risk Assessment - General Assault (SRA - General Assault)

This scale is to be completed for an offender convicted of an assault offence other than a partner assault or sexual assault. This assessment is to be completed upon the offender's admission to the correctional system or when preparing court reports. It is used to (a) determine the offender's risk to assault anyone; (b) identify the problem areas that contribute to assault offending; (c) match the type and level of supervision and interventions to offender risk; and (d) assess an offender's suitability for work placements, community temporary releases, or early release.

4. Secondary Risk Assessment - Partner Abuse (SRA - Partner Abuse)

This scale is to be completed for young offenders convicted of a partner assault or for those who have a history of assaulting their partners. This assessment is to be completed upon the offender's admission to the correctional system or when preparing court reports. It is used to (a) determine an offender's risk to reoffend in a partner assault; (b) identify the problem areas that contribute to partner assault; (c) determine levels and types of supervision and program services for partner abusers; and (d) assess an offender's suitability for work placements, community releases, or early release.

5. Secondary Risk Assessment - Sexual Assault (SRA - Sexual Assault)

Information not available.

Pride in Delinquency Scale (PID)

The PID scale was developed to complement the CCS as a measure of criminal attitudes. The PID is a 10-item, self-report instrument that assesses an individual's degree of comfort (i.e., pride versus shame) about getting involved in specific criminal behaviour.

Risk/Needs Assessment - Case Management Review (RNA)

The RNA is a 42-item standardized instrument used by the Ontario Ministry of Community, Family and Children's Services with Phase I (aged 15 and under at the time of the offence) young offenders. It is adapted from the YLS/CMI. (See YLS/CMI for a more detailed description.)

Structured Assessment of Violence Risk in Youth (SAVRY)

The SAVRY is used to make assessments and recommendations about the nature and degree of risk that an adolescent may pose for future violence. It is composed of 24 risk items and 6 protective items.

Security Risk Questionnaire (SRQ)

The Security Risk Questionnaire was developed by the Yukon Youth Services Assessment Coordinator to assess a youth's immediate risk of harm to him/herself, harm to other residents, harm to staff, and risk of escape. It is used to determine the level of custody in an institution.


The Static-99 is an actuarial instrument designed to estimate the probability of sexual and violent recidivism among adult males who have already been convicted of at least one sexual offence against a child or non-consenting adult. The Static-99 is intended to be a measure of long-term risk potential. Given its lack of dynamic factors, it cannot be used to select treatment targets, measure change, evaluate whether offenders have benefited from treatment, or predict when (or under what circumstances) sex offenders are likely to recidivate. It is not recommended for adolescents (under 18 years at time of release), female offenders, or offenders who have only been convicted of prostitution, pimping, public toileting (sex in public locations with consenting adults), or possession of indecent materials.

The scale contains the following 10 items:

  1. Prior sexual offences
  2. Prior sentencing dates
  3. Any convictions for non-contact sex offences
  4. Current convictions for non-sexual violence
  5. Prior convictions for non-sexual violence
  6. Unrelated victims
  7. Stranger victims
  8. Male victims
  9. Young
  10. Single

Youth Community Risk/Needs Assessment (YCRNA)[27]

The Youth Community Risk/Needs Assessment is used to help case managers decide what the appropriate level of supervision should be for a youth who has been sentenced to a period of community supervision. It is considered a decision-making aid, not a substitute for skill and experience-based decision making. Sections A and B of the form provide a framework for consideration of current needs dimensions and historical risk factors. The domains (or factors) within each of those areas are ones that are likely to be relevant for the majority of youth. Completion of each of the items allows the case manager to consider each issue in an organized way so that none are overlooked, as well as provide a record of the youth's situation at a given point in time. The tool consists of three sections. Section A, the Contemporary Needs Assessment, includes nine dynamic factors which are rated on a four-point scale. They are as follows:

  1. Family relationships
  2. Parental supervision
  3. Living arrangements
  4. Educational/employment/day program activities
  5. Peer relations
  6. Substance abuse
  7. Leisure/recreation
  8. Personality/Behaviour
  9. Attitudes

Section B. Historical Risk Assessment (static factors) evaluates 13 items rated on subjective four-point scales. They are as follows:

  1. Number of current convictions (none - three or more)
  2. Number of prior convictions (none - three or more)
  3. Number of prior probation periods (none - three or more)
  4. Number of prior alternative measures, Diversion agreements (none - three or more)
  5. Ever in custody (which includes scoring "police arrest and detention only" and "remanded in custody")
  6. Number of prior custody dispositions (none - three or more)
  7. Weapons use/threat (no/yes)
  8. Frequency of violence (none, low, medium, high)
  9. Severity of violence (none, low, medium, high)
  10. Age at first contact with the justice system (16-17, 14-15,12-13, 11 or younger)
  11. Prior contacts with child welfare system (none, youth or family services, in care agreement or youth agreement, temporary or continuing custody agreement)
  12. Age at first contact with child welfare system

The instrument also contains a section for special factors that indicate that an additional assessment is required. These factors are sex offender, violent offender, mentally disordered, addictions, child protection, youth agreement, other factor.

The third section of the tool, Additional Case Planning, consists of a 32-item yes/no checklist of evaluative criteria for the probation officer to use to assess the youth's character and an 11-item yes/no checklist to assess the caregiver(s). At the end of each of the sections, the case manager is asked to consider the information from the various rated items, as well as any other relevant information that is available, before making an overall rating of current needs and historical risk factors. If insufficient information exists on any of the items contained in the tool, probationers are to indicate thus and omit the item.

The revised version of this tool contains a fourth section, Section D, entitled Additional Sex Offender Reoffence Management Considerations. This section contains a 13-item checklist rated on a three-point scale (no, possible/not verified, and yes). Items include, prior sexual offending, multiple types of sexual offences, use of force in sexual offences, increase in frequency in sexual offences, increase in seriousness of sexual offending, younger victim, same sex victim, family member victim, non-family member/acquaintance/friend victim, stranger victim, access to potential victims, inadequate plans to avoid reoffence, unmotivated to participate in treatment. The additional considerations for sex offenders include a range of personality characteristics and situational determinants (i.e., private access to the internet, the use of chat rooms, pornographic use of the internet, and caregiver denial).

Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI)

The YLS/CMI is a standardized instrument for use by professional workers in assessing risk of recidivism, need for correctional programs to reduce recidivism, and responsivity factors that impact on case plan goals. The tool includes a 42-item checklist that produces a detailed survey of youth risk and needs factors that are to be used in the formulation of a case plan. The instrument is designed to be used with young offenders (Hoge and Andrews 2002). It is composed of the following seven sections:

  • Part I: Assessment of Risk and Need
  • Part II: Summary of Risk/Need Factors
  • Part III: Assessment of Other Needs/Special Considerations
  • Part IV: Your Assessment of the Client's General Risk/Need Level
  • Part V: Contact Level
  • Part VI: Case Management Plan
  • Part VII: Case Management Review

Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory - Screening Version

This is a short version of the YLS/CMI that is designed to provide an initial screening of risk and need levels in young people. The purpose of the tool is to determine whether or not further assessment is appropriate. Ideally the collection of this instrument is to be based on a file review and interviews with the youth, parent, and collateral sources. The tool contains eight items:

  1. History of conduct disorder
  2. Current school or employment problems
  3. Some criminal friends
  4. Alcohol/drug problems
  5. Leisure/recreation
  6. Personality/behaviour
  7. Family circumstances/parenting
  8. Attitudes/orientation

The first six items require a yes/no response. Items seven and eight are rated on a four-point scale ranging from zero (a satisfactory situation) to four (a very unsatisfactory situation with a very clear and strong need for improvement).

Youth Management Assessment (YMA)

The Ontario Ministry of Public Safety and Security developed the YMA in consultation with representatives from open-custody facilities. It is designed to be used in Phase II (young offenders aged 16 and older at the time of the offence) open-custody facilities and to accomplish the following six goals:

  1. To provide an overall perspective of a client in a standardized manner that provides an accurate indication of the client's degree of risk for inflicting serious personal injury
  2. To reduce the risk of potential harm to staff and other clients and to increase the safety of all residences and institutions that accommodate young offenders
  3. To provide a standardized means of communicating about a young offender to other staff, settings, or agencies
  4. To assist staff in preparing predisposition reports and in making specific recommendations; in so doing, to improve the overall appropriateness of dispositions for young offenders
  5. To provide direction in terms of security, management, and treatment of young offenders who are at risk for serious personal injury
  6. To monitor the progress or deterioration of young offenders during the course of their disposition (MacLeod 1995)

Youth Needs Assessment/Youth Case Plan

Youth Needs Assessment is conducted once a youth is admitted to custody in British Columbia. This tool consists of nine dynamic factors rated on a four-point scale ranging from the factor seen as an asset to the community to considerable need for improvement. They are as follows:

  1. Family relationships
  2. Parental supervision
  3. Living arrangements
  4. Academic/vocational skills
  5. Employment pattern
  6. Financial management
  7. Substance abuse
  8. Behavioural/emotional stability
  9. Attitudes

This form also contains a space for rating escape risk.

Youth Risk Assessment - Youth Classification

TheYouth Risk Assessment is used for classification; it is administered when a youth is sentenced to custody. It consists of three sections: Institutional management, Escape risk, and Public safety concerns.

Youthful Offender - Level of Service Inventory (YO-LSI)

The YO-LSI is a risk/needs assessment instrument used to classify and assess a juvenile offender's overall risk level and to identify and target criminogenic needs areas. The YO-LSI consists of 82 static and dynamic predictors of criminal risk/needs that are grouped into the following seven factors: criminal history, substance abuse, educational/employment problems, family problems, peer relation problems, accommodation problems, and psychological factors.

[27] Paraphrased from the "Youth Community Risk/Needs Assessment Rating Guidelines. BC: Justice Services Section, Ministry for Children and Families.

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