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Think Out Loud

Measuring the Risk of Recidivism


Pete Springer/OPB

Some jurisdictions in Oregon are trying out a new system to assess offenders’ risk of recidivism. The Oregon Public Safety Checklist is similar to the actuarial tools insurance companies use to set premiums. Parole and probation officers can use it to figure out what level of supervision is most appropriate for a given offender. Judges can also use it to help determine the most appropriate sentence for someone convicted of a crime. Some prosecutors have expressed concern that this tool oversimplifies the justice system and could incorrectly categorize serious offenders as “low risk.”

Have you been sentenced in Oregon? Have you been the victim of a crime? What do you think about the tools the state uses to determine which sentence is most appropriate? Have you lived in a state that did things differently?

Editor’s Note: Our guest John Foote put together this spreadsheet (pdf) to illustrate his concerns with the definition of “low risk.”

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