The DTS Model of the Dynamics of Offender Risk

The Development, Trait, and State (DTS) model provides a general paradigm for the issues related to treating offender risk.  The DTS model focuses on the “dynamics” of offender risk.  The study of the dynamics of offender risk can be broken down into the study of life-course, long-term, and shorter-term dynamics. These will be called the Developmental, Trait, and State (DTS) dynamics. 

Over the life course, there are developmental changes in strength and mental capacity that affect the level of criminal propensity. The developmental changes cause very large changes in the overall levels of criminal propensity over the life course, as shown by the “age crime curve.”

Over the long term, years and decades, there is a general rank order stability in the overall level of criminal propensity. The stable rank order differences are referred to as a “Trait” aspect of criminal propensity.

State changes can be broken down into medium and short term

Over the medium term, in weeks and months, there are changes in the offender’s local life circumstances such as employment, drug use, etc. These medium term changes affect the “State” of the offender’s risk level.

In the short-term, over seconds, minutes, hours, and days, risk changes due to highly dynamic factors related to the immediate environment and current psychological state of the offender.  These short-term risk factors are called “Opportunity” risk factors. 

Therefore, there are three dynamic factors that must be assessed when looking at offender risk levels, Development, Trait, and State (DTS).