Managing the risk of recidivism



Criminology practitioners have always endeavoured to evaluate the risk of recidivism in offenders as precisely as possible. They also attempt to develop methods for reintegrating them into society. Emphasis is often placed on the evaluation of risk factors, such as alcohol and drug use, negative peer associations or problems integrating into the job market; however, the development of instruments for evaluating risk factors has been to the detriment of knowledge about social integration and protection factors (higher level of education, good friends, adequate family support, etc.).

Despite the difficulty of evaluating protection factors, they should be integrated into offender rehabilitation practices.

For the past several years, the Good Lives model has been changing the paradigm. Inspired by positivist psychology, this approach places the emphasis on offenders' hopes and dreams and the positive aspects of their lives. Université de Montréal criminology research professor Jean-Pierre Guay is attempting to evaluate the utility of this model in offender intervention and recidivism prediction, a field of research that is in its initial stages in Quebec. His research, involving 115 offenders incarcerated in a provincial institution, showed that, despite the difficulty of evaluating protection factors, they should be integrated into offender rehabilitation practices.

Above all, Guay's work demonstrated that advancing our knowledge of protection factors and their links with risk factors helps in creating better tools for the practitioners who are grappling with the difficult task of facilitating the social reinsertion of offenders. By building on the offenders' strengths, this approach could put new life into correctional intervention.