Does Change in Risk Matter?: Examining Whether Changes in Offender Risk Characteristics Influence Recidivism Outcomes

48 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2015

See all articles by Thomas H. Cohen

Thomas H. Cohen

Government of the United States of America - Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

Christopher Lowenkamp

Government of the United States of America - Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

Scott VanBenschoten

Office of Probation and Pretrial Services, Administrative Office of the United States Courts

Date Written: June 21, 2015

Abstract

The Post Conviction Risk Assessment (PCRA) is a correctional assessment tool utilized by federal probation officers that identifies offenders most likely to commit new crimes and the criminogenic characteristics that, if changed, could reduce the likelihood of recidivism. We explored how changes in offender risk influence the likelihood of recidivism by tracking a population of 64,716 offenders placed on federal supervision with multiple PCRA assessments. In general, offenders scoring in the high, moderate, and low/moderate risk categories at their initial assessment and experiencing decreases in their risk classifications were less likely to recidivate compared to their counterparts whose risk levels remained unchanged or increased. Conversely, increases in offender risk were associated with higher rates of reoffending behavior. Notably, we saw no recidivism reduction for offenders in the lowest risk category if they received decreases in their overall PCRA scores.

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Thomas H. and Lowenkamp, Christopher and VanBenschoten, Scott, Does Change in Risk Matter?: Examining Whether Changes in Offender Risk Characteristics Influence Recidivism Outcomes (June 21, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2621267 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2621267

Thomas H. Cohen (Contact Author)

Government of the United States of America - Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts ( email )

One Columbus Circle N.E.
Washington, DC 20544
United States

Christopher Lowenkamp

Government of the United States of America - Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts

One Columbus Circle N.E.
Washington, DC 20544
United States

Scott VanBenschoten

Office of Probation and Pretrial Services, Administrative Office of the United States Courts

United States

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