Offenders' Perceptions of Risk Factors for Self and Others: Theoretical Importance and Some Empirical Data

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Little research has examined offenders' understanding of the factors that increase their likelihood of future criminal activity. Although social-psychological research has described many ways in which individuals have overly positive views of themselves and their performance, a more limited body of literature has demonstrated that offenders exhibit an unrealistically optimistic perception of their success upon release from incarceration. A survey designed to assess offender understanding of general risk factors and their own risk factors was administered to male offenders (N = 88) returning to the community from prison incarceration. Results suggest that these individuals have an appreciation for the factors that generally increase the risk of future offending, but do not perceive these factors as personally relevant. In addition, the concordance between offender-identified and Level of Service/Case Management Inventory-identified risk factors was limited. Implications of this lack of understanding, and ways to improve upon this knowledge, are discussed.



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