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Time for a Change: Examining the Relationships between Recidivism-Free Time, Recidivism Risk, and Risk Assessment
Justice Quarterly  (IF4.717),  Pub Date : 2021-10-12, DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2021.1957983
Nicole E. Frisch-Scott, Kiminori Nakamura


As efforts to reverse mass incarceration increase, so does the need to supervise more individuals in the community. Faced with heightened demand, community corrections agencies increasingly use risk assessment to allocate resources efficiently and improve public safety. While both static, historical factors as well as dynamic, changeable factors have been incorporated into risk assessment instruments, one factor notably absent is the amount of time an individual remains in the community recidivism-free. Using parametric and discrete hazard models, we examine the relationship between recidivism-free time and observed recidivism among individuals on parole supervision in Pennsylvania where dynamic risk assessment is used. Specifically, we assess whether recidivism-free time predicts recidivism independent of these risk scores and the extent to which single and repeated risk scores accurately predict recidivism. Findings support the use of dynamic risk instruments but suggest that recidivism prediction may benefit from considering recidivism-free time. Implications for community corrections policy are discussed.