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May 4, 2018

"Judicial Appraisals of Risk Assessment in Sentencing"

The title of this post is the title of this notable new paper now available via SSRN authored by John Monahan, Anne Metz and Brandon Garrett.  Here is the abstract:

The assessment of an offender’s risk of recidivism is emerging as a key consideration in sentencing policy in many American jurisdictions.  However, little information is available on how actual sentencing judges view this development.  This study surveys the views of a population sample of judges in Virginia, the state that has gone farther than any other in legislatively mandating risk assessment for certain drug and property offenders. Results indicate that a strong majority of judges endorse the principle that sentencing eligible offenders should include a consideration of recidivism risk.  However, a strong majority also report the availability of alternatives to imprisonment in their jurisdictions to be inadequate at best.  Finally, most judges oppose the adoption of a policy requiring them to provide a written reason for declining to impose alternative interventions on “low risk” offenders.

May 4, 2018 at 09:31 AM | Permalink


The formulas in this algorithm must be made public. Secret formulas are the same as secret Star Chamber proceedings, directly remedied by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. Although I subscribe to all -isms and -ophobias, non-conduct factors should be excluded, for example growing up in a high crime neighborhood. That is secret code for race. There are no racial difference in criminal mentality, so race or proxies for race are not valid.

Ideally, the legislature would write these protocol, since they are law making and sentencing law. They may be criticized for quackery, and edited yearly, as experience accumulates. Then legislators can be voted out if the crime rate increases.

Posted by: David Behar | May 4, 2018 1:41:35 PM

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