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Risk Assessment Project

The correctional reform legislation enacted in 2008 [Acts 81, 82, 83 and 84 of 2008] requires the Commission to develop and adopt new guidelines for parole (county and state) and re-parole, as well as for re-sentencing following revocation probation, County Intermediate Punishment (CIP), and State Intermediate Punishment (SIP).  In developing guidelines for parole, Act 81 of 2008 mandates that the guidelines consider validated risk assessment tools, and take into account available research relating to the risk of recidivism.

Additionally, Act 95 of 2010, which was signed by Governor Rendell on October 27, 2010, mandated the Commission to develop a risk assessment instrument to assist the court at sentencing. Specifically, Act 95 mandated that the Commission undertake the following:

    • Have guidelines adopt a risk assessment instrument to be used at sentencing;
    • Consider the risk of re-offense and threat to public safety;
    • Help determine if offender candidate for alternative sentencing programs [CIP,SIP, Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive Program, Department of Correction's Boot Camp]; and
    • Develop an empirically based worksheet using factors predicting recidivism.

To address these new mandates, the Commission has undertaken the Risk Assessment Project.  Stage I of the project, conducted during the summer of 2010, was directed toward obtaining information on the current utilization of risk assessment instruments in other jurisdictions, the identification of risk factors used by other instruments, and the availability of information contained in pre-sentence investigations in a sample of 25 counties. Stage II of the project was the initial recidivism study utilizing primarily criminal justice factors, and limited demographic factors, to determine what factors best predict recidivism for various types of offenders.

On March 16, 2017, the Commission on Sentencing voted to adopt for purposes of public comment, a sentence risk assessment instrument.  The proposed instrument was published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on April 8, 2017.

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