IRC Statement on Justice Department’s First Step Act Risk and Needs Assessment Release

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice today announced release of a report on development and implementation of the First Step Act’s statutorily required “Risk and Needs Assessment System” (RNAS).

As outlined in Title I of the First Step Act (FSA), that system is intended to assess the individualized risk of post-release recidivism for all prison inmates in federal custody; similarly assess each inmate’s criminogenic needs; incentivize inmates to address those needs through referrals to appropriate programming at the Bureau of Prisons (BOP); and reward inmates who successfully complete such programming and thus reduce their risk of post-release recidivism with “time credits” applicable in home confinement, residential reentry centers and halfway houses, or supervised release during what would otherwise be the end of their sentences.

The Independent Review Committee (IRC) established by FSA to advise and assist the Attorney General with development and implementation of the RNAS has solicited written recommendations, relevant research, and other information and perspectives from nearly 100 FSA-interested organizations and individuals; conducted an extensive site visit and debriefing at BOP’s Designation and Sentence Computation Center (DSCC) in Grand Prairie, TX; and received valuable feedback and guidance from Senate staff directly involved in the drafting of FSA. Since its formation in April 2019, the IRC has also regularly consulted with Zach Hamilton and Grant Duwe (the contract experts for the RNAS risk-assessment tool, PATTERN) and with BOP, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Deputy Attorney General and his staff, the Attorney General and his staff, and other constituent offices at the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The members of the IRC released the following joint statement:

“The IRC is pleased and grateful that DOJ has proved open to its advice and counsel during development of and planning for PATTERN and related elements of FSA Title I’s RNAS. And the Committee looks forward to a continuing collaboration with DOJ as the Department refines and expands its Title I efforts so that FSA’s promised benefits may be made available as widely as possible to BOP inmates and the public at large.”

For more information, please see or contact David Tell, Executive Director, First Step Act Independent Review Committee.

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