The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the utility of a national initiative (the National Flagging System [NFS]) in correctly identifying high risk violent and sexual offenders and facilitating the appropriate application of preventative detention in Canada. A sample of 516 flagged offenders (FOs) was compared with 58 dangerous offenders (DOs) and 129 long-term offenders (LTOs) on demographic variables and risk assessment measures. Recidivism was also examined for a sample of FOs and LTOs. Results found many similarities among the 3 groups but FOs, on average, scored lower on structured risk assessment measures. Despite this latter finding, a significant proportion of FOs were rated as high or very high risk to reoffend according to the risk categories of the risk assessment instruments used in this study and based on percentile rankings. Violent (including sexual) reconviction rates for FOs were also significantly higher when compared to both LTOs and a sample of federal offenders. The base rate for preventative detention designations among FOs was substantially higher than the expected base rate among violent and sexual recidivists, thereby confirming the utility of the NFS. Although the NFS identifies high risk offenders, NFS coordinators would benefit from utilizing structured risk assessments when making flagging decisions.

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Keywords dangerous offender, long-term offender, national flagging system, preventative detention, risk assessment
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Journal Law and Human Behavior
Blais, J, & Bonta, J. (James). (2015). Tracking and managing high risk offenders: A Canadian initiative. Law and Human Behavior, 39(3), 253–265. doi:10.1037/lhb0000109