How is the offender’s risk assessed?

When the offender’s sentence begins, an Offender Intake Assessment is done. As part of this comprehensive assessment, factors which led the offender into criminal behaviour are identified as well as the areas in the offender’s life that, if changed, could reduce the risk of reoffending. 

The following information is taken from Canadian Criminal Justice: A Primer (1997).

Factors that indicate the greatest risk of reoffending include:

  • Having five or more previous convictions for break and enter, one previous conviction for a sex offense, one previous conviction for escape or two or more previous convictions for assault; 

  • Being under 19 years of age when first convicted;

  • Having five or more prior terms of imprisonment;

  • Spending less than six months between current conviction and last release.

Factors that indicate the lowest risk include:

  • Serving a first term of incarceration;

  • Serving a sentence for homicide;

  • Being over 49 years of age at first conviction;

  • Being married at time of admission;

  • Having three or more dependents under one roof;

  • Having a sentence of six years or more;

  • Being employed at the time of arrest.

Based on these weighted negative or positive factors, a score is calculated that becomes part of the offender’s file for the Parole Board. The score places the offender in one of five risk groups and is used to predict the probability of the offender reoffending. However, it is very difficult to absolutely predict the behaviour of an individual. 

Mennonite Central Committee Canada. (2011). Getting through the maze: A guidebook for survivors of homicide.

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