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Subverting and Negotiating Risk Assessment: A Case Study of the LSI in a Canadian Youth Custody Facility

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 54 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2012 Pages: 203-228
Dale Ballucci
Date Published
April 2012
26 pages
This study explored the extent to which risk-assessment tools affected the management policies for young offenders in an open custody facility for female young offenders in central Canada.
This case study examines probation officers and local agents' strategies and approaches to completing and applying the Level of Supervision Inventory (LSI) to female young offenders at Youth House, an open-custody facility in central Canada. Both the probation officers and Youth House staff express concerns about the LSI and employ strategies to subvert its almost deterministic impact through discretionary practices. The author shows that the LSI's risk calculations are subverted by both Youth House staff and, to a lesser extent, the probation officers, thereby reducing the LSI's importance in the management of offenders. Lastly, the author found that probation officers utilized the LSI to externalize responsibility. This tool provides them with a means by which to justify and rationalize their management decisions. This study supports not only the growing body of literature that examines risk in practice but also contributes to increasing knowledge on how risk rationales on the macro-level translate to practices at the local level. (Published Abstract)