Adapt Risk and needs assessment tool for the smarter use of sentencing and drug treatment in Alternatives to Incarceration programming for the Americas


A key barrier to implementing ATIs is the lack of reliable information about individuals' specific backgrounds and their needs to allow officials to detect underlying factors, including but not limited to substance use disorders driving the alleged criminal behavior. To address this, ES-CICAD is developing and piloting a risk-needs assessment tool using the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) theory. The RNR theory states that effective interventions should assess and target specific criminogenic risk factors, address the dynamic needs of individuals, and tailor interventions to the cognitive and learning styles of the participants. By incorporating these principles, the RNR model aims to enhance efficiency and foster better-informed interventions, thus reducing recidivism and promoting rehabilitation among offenders.


Further information on current initiatives is available on the following page:
Smarter Use of Alternatives to Incarceration and Sentencing through Better Information in Colombia

Accomplishments to Date
  • OAS/CICAD developed and is currently piloting a risk-needs assessment tool in one member state. The content of the tool has been used as a guideline in other justice initiatives by the said member state.
  • OAS/CICAD has trained over 40 officials (public defenders and judges) in risk-needs assessment.
  • Alongside an external partner, OAS/CICAD is currently developing a guideline for the creation of a risk-needs assessment tool in Colombia as a model to be further used for other similar programs in Latin America.
Project Activities
  1. Preliminary assessment:
    • Identifying key stakeholders and ensuring political support.
    • Selecting one or multiple jurisdictions for piloting or nationwide piloting; and
    • Designating implementing officials.
  2. Risk-needs assessment tool drafting and approval: (i) create/adapt a risk assessment tool according to the host country's characteristics and legal model and (ii) obtain approval of the tool.
  3. Initial training: Sensitizing and training officials on data collection, needs assessment, and ATI basics.
  4. Formalize host country support via agreement: making a sustainable impact is critical.
  5. Implement a draft assessment tool via a pilot project.
  6. Evaluate results: perform monitoring and evaluation activities that measure impact and allow the country, ES-CICAD, and INL to make result-based decisions over the project.
  7. Follow up and update the tool depending on the evaluation.
Global Level Outcomes
  • Creation of a standardized risks-needs assessment tool that can be adapted for similar programs nationally and inspire other countries in the Americas.
  • Increase global dialogue on the importance of addressing needs among the population in contact with the justice system – including substance use.
  • Improvement of national risks-needs assessment tools by the sharing of experiences.
National Level Outcomes
  • Increase the number of eligible defendants that access ATI programs after being screened with risk-needs assessment tools developed or adopted by the country.
  • Increase the number of pilot projects for the implementation of risk-needs assessment tools.
  • Strengthened institutional capacity and sustained use of risk-needs assessment tools officials trained as implementers and trainers in the use of risk-needs assessment tools.
  • Increased knowledge about ATI and the benefits of linking services to the population in contact with the justice system.

For the Americas: Antonio Lomba, Unit Chief, Institutional Strengthening, Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission of the Organization of American States (ES-CICAD/OAS), alomba [at] oas [dot] org (alomba[at]oas[dot]org);

Current State Participants