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Examining Overrides of Risk Classifications for Offenders on Federal Supervision

Volume 80 Number 1
June 2016

The federal probation system's Post Conviction Risk Assessment (PCRA) has been empirically shown to effectively predict the likelihood that an offender will recidivate during his or her supervision period. Judicial policy allows officers the option to override the PCRA's risk classification of an offender for certain policy-related reasons (sex offender, persistently violent, mental health issues, or serious youth offender) or as "discretionary" overrides. In this article the authors first examine the overall prevalence of overrides for offenders under federal supervision, the types of overrides, and the rationales. They then explore whether offenders with overrides are supervised differently compared to those without and whether they recidivate at rates similar to their original or reclassified risk levels.