Currently, researchers have identified 19 characteristics or principles that are found to be associated with reductions in re-offending. Some of these principles are overarching principles that set the general human values and theoretical context to effective intervention (e.g., provide services rather than relying on punishment to change behaviour). Other principles relate to offender risk assessment, program delivery, and organizational factors. However, it appears that there are three principles at the core of effective intervention with offenders.
1.The first principle is called the Risk Principle and states that in order to increase treatment effectiveness the level of service must be matched to the risk level of the offender (i.e., low risk offenders receive minimal intervention and high risk offenders receive intensive services).
2. The second principle, the Need Principle, says that treatment should target those problematic needs of offenders that are actually related to offending (i.e., criminogenic needs). And finally, the Responsivity Principle calls for providing cognitive behavioural treatment and to tailor the intervention to the learning style, motivation, abilities and strengths of the offender.
When treatment programs adhere to all three principles there is a significant impact on recidivism. Offenders receiving treatment in residential or custodial settings show lower recidivism rates than offenders who do not receive treatment. When the treatment is delivered in community settings the effectiveness of the intervention is even greater.
3.Finally, the reviews also reveal a gap in effectiveness between the controlled, experimental settings and the “real world” interventions. This is most likely due to the varied levels of quality and integrity of service delivery in the everyday situation.