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Iowa Board of Parole Risk Assessment Validation 2012

NCJ Number
Cheryl Davidson
Date Published
March 2012
31 pages
This validation of the Iowa Board of Parole's (BOP's) risk assessment instrument determined whether or not this tool continues to be a valid predictor of inmate postrelease behavior.
A comparison of the predictive abilities of the BOP risk assessment and the Level of Service Inventory Revised (LSI-R) found that both instruments were better than chance in predicting all measures of recidivism, except for technical parole violations for the FY2007 release cohort. In conjunction with other factors, the BOP risk instrument can aid the Parole Board in determining the timing of release; however, the predictive abilities of both instruments could be strengthened with modifications. Since the BOP risk-assessment instrument has been used with no empirical modifications since the early 1990s, it is time to examine ways of modifying the BOP instrument to improve its usefulness. After reviewing the current study, Dr. Daryl Fischer, the creator of the BOP instrument, suggested several possibilities for improvement, including reducing the weight placed on current offenses and focusing more on previous offenses, factoring additional variables into the risk assessment (specifically, offender age and gang affiliation), and using other validated risk assessment tools for the sex offender population. The cohort used to test the validity of the two instruments included all offenders released from prison and work release in FY2007 who had an opportunity to recidivate and who had a BOP risk score that was determined to be current at the time of release. There were 4,044 releases from prison and work release in FY2007; of this number, 3,892 had the opportunity to reoffend. The final cohort with risk scores consisted of 2,843 releases. Situations that rendered an offender unable to recidivate included death that occurred within 3 years after release, offenders who had completed their sentences and were then committed to a mental health facility, and parolees to detainment by the Immigration and Naturalization Service or U.S. Marshall. 27 tables and appended characteristics of offenders with a current BOP assessment, BOP validation results, LSI-R validation results, and Dr. Daryl Fischer's commentary on the validation