The Risk Principle Paradox: A Multilevel Approach to Examine Which High-Risk Offenders Successfully Change During Rehabilitation Programs

Cole Andrew Higley, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

The empirically supported risk principle demonstrates that correctional agencies can reduce recidivism by providing greater supervision and rehabilitation services to higher-risk offenders. The current study examined the paradox that offenders with the greatest risk to reoffend also have the most potential to successfully change; yet, little research has examined why some high-risk offenders succeed in programs, while others do not. Analyses examined whether certain demographic, motivation, and rehabilitative group features were related to program performance and post-release recidivism. Results showed that in certain rehabilitation types, statistically significant interactions were observed, such that the relationship between individual risk and outcome (either program performance or post-release recidivism) differed depending on individual offender traits, specifically age and motivation to change. In addition, the relationship between risk and program performance differed depending on group level factors, specifically average rehabilitation group risk and individuals’ relative position within a group in terms of their relative degree of risk to reoffend. Although a minority of models resulted in statistically significant effects, and effect sizes tended to be small, these findings demonstrate that person and group level factors are important considerations when attempting to optimize correctional rehabilitation outcomes. These findings have the potential to inform clinical practice within correctional agencies.^

Subject Area

Psychology|Criminology

Recommended Citation

Higley, Cole Andrew, "The Risk Principle Paradox: A Multilevel Approach to Examine Which High-Risk Offenders Successfully Change During Rehabilitation Programs" (2017). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI10619954.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI10619954

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