Academic Publications

The Predictive Utility of the Wisconsin Risk Needs Assessment Instrument in a Sample of Successfully Released Texas Probationers

Howard Henderson | Elycia S. Daniel | David A. Rembert | Anthony Troy Adams


This study of 159 probationers in Texas found the Wisconsin Risk Needs Assessment had limited accuracy in predicting post-release recidivism, with high false positive and negative rates. The findings highlight challenges in predicting recidivism using existing tools. More research is needed to improve predictive validity and fully understand the strengths and limitations of risk assessments for post-release outcomes.

Key Takeaways

  • Recidivists had significantly higher risk and needs scores than non-recidivists.
  • Correlations between risk scores and recidivism were significant but small in magnitude.
  • High risk probationers were more likely to be rearrested than medium/low risk.
  • The instrument had high false positive (44%) and false negative (37%) rates.
  • The relative improvement over chance was only 12.5% better than chance predictions.
  • The instrument’s predictive validity for post-release recidivism appears limited.