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Developing a Sentencing Risk Assessment Tool: Identifying Recidivism Predictors for Level 5 Offenders

The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing is working with the Justice Center to conduct a recidivism study of the most severe offenders. The goal is to learn more about which offender characteristics best predict future recidivism, especially for violent crimes.

Project Team

  • Principal Investigator: Matthew DeMichele, Ph.D.
  • Graduate Assistant: Julia Laskorunsky, M.A. (jal549@psu.edu)

    About the Project

    • The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing (PCS) was mandated by the Pennsylvanian Legislature to develop a risk assessment tool to guide sentencing decisions.
    • In response to this mandate, the PCS is working with the Justice Center for Research to conduct a recidivism study of individuals sentenced as level 5 offenders (most severe; pose greatest threat to public safety).

    Research Questions

    • Which offender characteristics best predict future recidivism?
    • Specifically, which characteristics predict recidivism for a violent crime?

    Project Details

    • The Justice Center is using sentencing data and several offender characteristics from the Department of Corrections’ database to analyze offender characteristics.

    Implications

    • The findings from this project will contribute to criminological theory and methods, and have direct policy-relevance by informing judges of the risks of recidivism.

    Final Report