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October 3, 2013

"Risk Redux: The Resurgence of Risk Assessment in Criminal Sanctioning"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper available via SSRN and authored by John Monahan and Jennifer Skeem. Here is the abstract:

After almost four decades of “just deserts,” the past several years have seen a remarkable resurgence of risk assessment as an essential component of criminal sanctioning.  In this article, we review current practice in the incorporation of risk assessment into the sanctioning systems of several illustrative states, and describe the major dimensions on which state practices differ.  We then elaborate the various meanings ascribed to the foundational concept of “risk” in criminal sanctioning, and contrast “risk” with what are now often called “criminogenic needs,” the fulfillment of which ostensibly reduce an offender’s level of “risk.”  Finally, we address the choice of an approach to risk assessment in sentencing, particularly in the resource-starved state of current correctional practice.

October 3, 2013 at 07:28 AM | Permalink


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I took Prof. Monahan's class on "Social Science and the Law" as a student at U.Va. Law School in 1986.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Oct 3, 2013 7:30:54 AM

The authors say:

"We wish clearly to acknowledge at the outset that forward-looking and utilitarian risk or risk assessment in criminal sanctioning currently takes place--and in our view should take place--within bounds set by backward-looking and moral concerns set by culpability and desert."

Why this limitation? Risk is risk. It changes all the time, for the better or worse.

Posted by: Tom McGee | Oct 3, 2013 3:05:18 PM

123D. Then, the deceased pose zero risk. Death is not a punishment. It should not be covered by the Eighth Amendment. It is an expulsion, the safest incapacitation for the future victims. It ends crime by attrition. There is no crime because the criminals are missing. Any intimidation and deterrence of other criminals is not counted, but is a welcome side benefit.

With such finality, the term crime should be narrowed to the FBI Index plus treason. Rent seeking would be covered by the crime of armed robbery, and should result in death after 12D, not 123D, because of how damaging it is.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Oct 3, 2013 6:03:43 PM

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