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How are offenders assessed for referral to Services and Programs?

The first step of the assessment to develop the case plan is to complete the Level of Servic​e Inventory - Revised (LSI-R). For sex offenders, CSNSW uses an assessment called the Static ​99R.

After the LSI-R and the Static 99R, further assessments are done according to the individual needs of the offender. Assessments designed to contribute to the case plan are described in the Compendium of Assessments.

With approximately 9000 offenders in custody and 18,000 offenders supervised in the community, assessments play a key role in ensuring that the right offender is referred to the right service or program at the right time. In 2012 CSNSW published the Compendium of Assessments listing all the instruments that have been approved for use by CSNSW staff. They include all psychological and psychometric tests and all other assessments. The Compendium of Assessments is available here.

Read more about the Compendium of Assessments here

The level of Service Inventory - Revised (LSI-R)

The Level of Service Inventory - revised (LSI-R)(Andrews & Bonta 2005) is recognised as one of the most effective methods for determining which offenders should be prioritised for interventions and it is the primary risk/need assessment used in CSNSW. For sex offenders, the STA​TIC 99R is used.

The LSI-R is an actuarial assessment tool used to determine: 1) an offender's risk of re-offending, how likely they are to re-offend when they are at liberty, and, 2) the set of criminogenic needs for each offender, that is, the risk factors associated with their offending. The factors that are identified as problematic or related to criminal conduct become targets for intervention and are used to develop the offender's case plan. Typically they include areas such as education and employment, drug and alcohol (AOD) history and effects, criminal attitudes, mental health, criminal associates and history of crime.

LSI-R results indicate which areas need to be targeted to reduce the risk of re-offending, whether through the provision of services (such as assistance with finding stable accommodation), or programs (such as alcohol and other drug rehabilitation programs).

Services are available to all offenders, but CSNSW provides programs only for offenders with an LSI-R of 'medium' or above.

Static-99R

The Static-99R (Harris, Phenix, Hanson, & Thornton, 2003; Helmus, Babchishin, Hanson, & Thornton, 2009) is an instrument designed to assist in the prediction of an offender's risk of sexual re-offending. The Static-99R has moderate predictive accuracy, consists of 10 items, and produces estimates of future risk based on a number of risk factors present in any one individual. The total score (obtained by summing all the items) ranges from -3 to 12.

The use of instruments such as the LSI-R and Static-99R has some limitations. The recidivism estimates and relative rankings are based on groups of individuals and therefore these estimates/rankings will not necessarily directly reflect the recidivism risk of an individual offender. Similarly, the Static-99R is not sensitive to the changes in an offender's circumstances that may increase or decrease the individual's actual risk of re-offending, i.e. it does not assess areas of need.

Literacy and the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF)

When determining the literacy demands that a program places on a participant it is important to take into a account the nationally recognised indicators for describing the core skill levels of the adult Australian population in reading, writing, oral communication, numeracy and learning. Until recently the system in use throughout Australia was the National Reporting System (NRS). However in 2008 this was replaced by the Australian Core Skills Framework (ACSF). Currently all offenders coming into custody are assessed using the ACSF which yields competence levels in reading, writing, numeracy and oracy.

All programs in the Compendium have been reviewed to determine the ACS level required to be able to participate fully. This is generally around ACS3. Poor literacy is not a reason to exclude offenders from programs. Rather the level indicates that the facilitator needs to be aware that the participant may require extra assistance with reading or writing tasks. This means that the facilitator may have to work harder or more creatively to meet the particular needs of the individual. The principle of responsivity, described above, indicates that the message needs to be communicated in a way that maximises the group member's capacity to respond and engage. This may well be a modality that does not rely on reading and writing. Another way to assist groups who have low literacy levels is for group programs to be co-facilitated with teachers who have particular expertise in literacy.