Structured decisions about Dutch probation service interventions
SourceProbation Journal, 60, 2, (2013), pp. 168-176
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OGG
SubjectExperimental Psychopathology and Treatment
There is convincing evidence that structuring decision making leads to better decisions. Comparing structured and unstructured professional decisions on a wide variety of topics in medicine, psychology or social welfare, it was found that structured decisions were as good as and often better than unstructured decisions. This can be explained by the fact that professionals, like anyone else, make errors of judgement. In different professional settings decision support tools have therefore been developed and implemented. As far as probation is concerned, tools for risk assessment are currently used in many countries. Assessment of the risks of recidivism and criminogenic needs thus have become structured, yet decisions on interventions are still to a large extent a matter of professional judgement. This is problematic, since this decision is fundamental in the probation process, and can have a large impact on the effectiveness of probation and on the life of the offender. Dutch probation practice shows that the quality of intervention planning indeed leaves something to be desired. Structuring the decision process for intervention planning, without replacing the professional, may improve the quality of probation work. It would seem to be a logical next step in the development of assessment tools.
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