A typical actuarial test will establish its norms from a large sample of offenders, making note of their characteristics and re-offending rates. The subject under review will be tested and compared to these norms, and the risk of re-offending will then be determined and taken into account at sentencing.
The role that actuarial tests have to play in hyping, undermining or introducing proportional response to the sentencing of a subject is disputable, and dependent upon the test itself. There has been some dispute as to whether actuarial tests can be used to pinpoint or dismiss mental abnormalities in court cases.
- Static99 - an example test.