How Should We Decide Whom to Imprison? The Use of Risk Assessment Instruments in Sentencing Decisions

Juvenile Specialty Court

How Should We Decide Whom to Imprison? The Use of Risk Assessment Instruments in Sentencing Decisions

November 5, 2019

Article Spotlight from the APA: Incarceration is sometimes necessary to protect the safety of the public. But how can we ensure that these decisions are fair? How can we tell if someone truly poses a danger to others?

Judges, police, and other justice system professionals make these decisions every day. However, studies demonstrate that it is difficult to accurately predict who will be violent — even for experts.

During the past 30 years, scientists have been working to improve these judgments by developing decision-making aids called risk assessment instruments. These instruments tell professionals which risk factors to consider in deciding how to supervise and treat people who have been charged with crimes...  Read more