Popping the cultural bubble of violence risk assessment tools – 2017-07

Violence risk instruments are administered in medico-legal contexts to estimate an individual’s likelihood of future violence. However, their ostensible limitations; in particular their mono-cultural and risk-centric composition, has drawn academic attention. These concerns may facilitate erroneous risk evaluations for certain non-white populations. Yet it remains unaddressed how cultural differences will be appraised in a risk assessment framework and which specific cultural factors should be considered. Provisions under the Canadian Criminal Code allow for Gladue Reports, to be sought by judicial officers prior to sentencing Indigenous people. Gladue Reports provide insights into an Indigenous person’s unique circumstances that may have led to their offending as well as community-based options for rehabilitation. We proffer that there may be value in augmenting the risk evaluation with culturally relevant Gladue style considerations identified by relevant Indigenous people to provide a more holistic account of an Indigenous individual’s circumstances.

Stephane M. Shepherd & Thalia Anthony
The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 14 Jul 2017