Reintegration Potential Ratings: Examination of Overrides

Key Words

reintegration potential, risk assessment, overrides

What it means

In most cases, overriding reintegration potential ratings of offenders during intake did not improve the accuracy of risk assessment over initial ratings calculated based on file information. As such, ways to limit overrides of these ratings to only the most appropriate circumstances are being explored. Part of these efforts may involve changes to the Correctional Service of Canada’s (CSC’s) computerized offender file system to reduce the number of reintegration potential rating overrides, such as requiring the provision of sound justifications when staff believe overrides are necessary.

What we found

From 2010-11 to 2012-13, the reintegration potential ratings of 31% newly-admitted non-Aboriginal men offenders were overridden at intake, mainly for those assessed as low or moderate risk of re-offence. Most overrides (91%) involved adjusting offenders’ reintegration potential ratings to reflect lower likelihoods of successful community reintegration.

Examinations of offenders’ institutional adjustment (institutional charges and placement in segregation) and post-release outcomes (suspensions and revocations of conditional release) demonstrated that outcomes differed for offenders whose reintegration potential ratings were and were not overridden. Several different types of analyses all demonstrated that, for most overridden offenders, the original reintegration potential rating (prior to override) more accurately reflected the offender’s later behaviour than did the overridden rating. This finding is in line with the general research literature in the area, which clearly shows that risk assessments produced by actuarial measures tend to better predict later behaviour than those based on subjective perceptions.

Additional analyses resulted in similar findings for Aboriginal men offenders and for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women offenders. In all cases, original reintegration potential ratings were more strongly associated with offender behaviour than the overridden ratings.

Why we did this study

Changes to CSC’s computerized offender record management system in 2010 allowed for the exploration of overrides of reintegration potential by parole officers at intake. We examined the number and nature of these overrides to determine how overrides were being used.

What we did

We analyzed the intake reintegration potential ratings of 11,357 non-Aboriginal men offenders admitted on a new warrant of committal during fiscal years 2010-11 to 2012-13. In cases where reintegration potential was overridden, the original rating (i.e., the rating calculated based on pre-specified file information) was compared to the overridden one (i.e., the rating reflecting staff’s professional judgment). The associations of each rating with institutional behaviour and post-release outcome were examined.

For non-Aboriginal men offenders, reintegration potential ratings are calculated based on scores on three measures: the Statistical Information on Recidivism (a measure of risk of re-offence), the Custody Rating Scale (a measure used in security classification), and static risk. For other offenders, the calculation involves scores on the Custody Rating Scale, static risk, and dynamic risk.

For more information

Please e-mail the Research Branch or contact us by phone at (613) 995-3975.

You can also visit the website for a full list of research publications.

Prepared by: R. Gobeil, L.-A. Keown, J. Gileno, C. Cousineau, S. Farrell MacDonald, and M. Ternes