Risk levels are more predictive than charge severity

In our criminal justice system, the assumption has long been that the more serious the charge that someone is facing, the more likely the person is either to commit a new crime or to fail to come to court if released. This assumption has been challenged by research that found other factors (criminal history, community ties, prior failures to appear, etc.) are more predictive than current charge. When looking at how likely someone is to not return to court, the risk level at which they were assessed is much more telling than the type of charge for which they were arrested. The higher the risk score, the more likely people are to not voluntarily come back to court. However, the severity of the charge does not predict the chances of not returning to court: people charged with the most violent crimes have similar chances (11 percent) of not coming back to court as people charged with low-level felonies such as theft and drug possession.

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