An Exploration of the Symmetry between Crime-Causing and Crime-Reducing Factors: Implications for Delivery of Offender Services

Both the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) and Structured Professional Judgment (SPJ) risk assessment approaches assume that a strong relationship exists between crime-causing and crime reducing factors. Using a probation sample, the present paper examines whether crime-causing and crime-reducing factors correspond. Probationers completed questionnaires where they were asked what factors were crime-causing and what factors were crime-reducing. Overall, the relationship between the crime-causing and crime-reducing factors was very weak—even after ruling out potential measurement and methodological artifacts (i.e., internal consistency, item stability, acquiescent responding). Applied to an individual offender, the results suggest that conducting assessments and recommending interventions need not be bound by assumptions that risk factors for past crime must be targeted to reduce crime. New endeavors to develop causal and idiographic crime-reducing strategies warrant consideration.