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Chris Baird

Chris Baird retired from NCCD as director of research in the organization’s Madison, Wisconsin, office at the end of 2012. Prior to serving in that role, Mr. Baird was NCCD executive vice president from 1985 to 2011. He has designed risk assessment, classification, and case management systems for child welfare, adult probation and parole, and juvenile justice systems. He developed and managed the National Institute of Corrections Model Probation and Parole program, which was implemented in 31 state agencies and hundreds of county probation departments throughout the United States. Mr. Baird served as principal investigator on several grants from the National Institute of Justice, including a comprehensive evaluation of the Florida Community Control Program. He served as a consultant to Annie E. Casey’s Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative and designed several detention screening instruments. From 1990 to 1997, he directed the NCCD Children’s Research Center, which has developed risk assessment and decision-making systems used in child protective services (CPS) by more than 50 state and county agencies in the United States, Australia, and Canada. Mr. Baird and colleagues wrote a comprehensive evaluation of the decision-making system in Michigan, assessing its impact on subsequent abuse and neglect. He directed and authored a national study funded by the Office of Child Abuse and Neglect that compared CPS risk assessment systems in four jurisdictions and a national study funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention comparing the validity and reliability of risk assessments commonly used by juvenile justice systems.

Mr. Baird has authored numerous journal articles and other publications on research, program development, and management issues in child welfare, juvenile justice, and corrections. In 1992 he received the University of Cincinnati Award from the American Probation and Parole Association for outstanding research contributions to the field. In 2001, he and colleague Dennis Wagner received the Pro Humanitate Literary Award for The Relative Validity of Actuarial and Consensus-Based Risk Assessment Systems from the North American Resource Center for Child Welfare. In 2004 he received the Grace B. Flandreau Award for his contributions to child welfare. His educational background includes a master’s degree in economics.
  

Recent Publications:

Chris Baird

In the first of his six-part series of briefs titled A Question of Evidence, Part Two, Chris Baird explains his reasons for revisiting the topic of his 2009 paper, A Question of Evidence: A Critique of Risk Assessment Models in the Justice System. According to Baird, the issues addressed in his earlier paper “remain in force today, further complicated by increased expectations emanating from new methods of analysis.

/sites/default/files/series_intro.pdf
Chris Baird

This is the second brief in the six-part series titled A Question of Evidence, Part Two. In this brief, Chris Baird explores the origins of claims that each succeeding “generation” of assessment models in the justice field offers greater “predictive” capacity to its users. Baird goes on to discuss the promotional strategies that led to widespread acceptance of the “generations” terminology and associated claims.

/sites/default/files/generations_myth.pdf
Chris Baird

This is the third brief in the six-part series titled A Question of Evidence, Part Two. In this brief, Chris Baird identifies flaws in the logic employed to support the use of criminogenic needs (or dynamic risk factors) in risk assessment. While assessing needs is a critical component of assessment, much of what is advocated combines the roles of group data and the actual treatment needs of the individual. This brief also discusses the appropriate role of needs assessment in case planning and service delivery.

/sites/default/files/criminogenic_needs.pdf
Chris Baird

This is the fourth brief in the six-part series titled A Question of Evidence, Part Two. In this brief, Chris Baird explores the research behind many current models, discusses methods commonly used to measure “predictive power,” and outlines what is required to measure the efficacy of various approaches to risk assessment.

/sites/default/files/developing__validating_ra_instruments.pdf
Chris Baird

This is the fifth brief in the six-part series titled A Question of Evidence, Part Two. In this brief, Chris Baird discusses the research behind structured professional judgment (SPJ) models, a less structured approach to risk assessment favored by the justice field. The brief also addresses concerns with the validity, reliability, equity, and utility of SPJ models.

/sites/default/files/structured_professional_judgment_models.pdf
Chris Baird

This is the final brief in the six-part series titled A Question of Evidence, Part Two. In this brief, Chris Baird summarizes the major problems identified throughout the series regarding risk assessment models, then goes on to suggest four steps toward remedying those problems. 

/sites/default/files/summary_and_recommendations.pdf
Chris Baird

This report explores the problems with the present state of risk assessment in the justice field as we at NCCD see them. The critique offered here is the result of many conversations with others in the justice community as well as a review of predictive research conducted in other fields. We recognize that much of what is presented is contrary to current understanding and acceptance, but we hope that it clarifies what evidence is required for the designation of best practice.

/sites/default/files/publication_pdf/special-report-evidence.pdf