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New research on using risk assessment at sentencing

If you are working on a COMPAS issue, you may be interested in a new research paper, “Risk Assessment in Criminal Sentencing,” from the University of Virginia School of Law.  Here is the abstract:

The past several years have seen a surge of interest in using risk assessment in criminal sentencing, both to reduce recidivism by incapacitating or treating high-risk offenders and to reduce prison populations by diverting low-risk offenders from prison. We begin by sketching jurisprudential theories of sentencing, distinguishing those that rely on risk assessment from those that preclude it. We then characterize and illustrate the varying roles that risk assessment may play in the sentencing process. We clarify questions regarding the various meanings of “risk” in sentencing and the appropriate time to assess the risk of convicted offenders. We conclude by addressing four principal problems confronting risk assessment in sentencing: conflating risk and blame, barring individual inferences based on group data, failing adequately to distinguish risk assessment from risk reduction, and ignoring whether, and if so, how, the use of risk assessment in sentencing affects racial and economic disparities in imprisonment.

The paper is available here. If you would like to see the article, but don’t have access to SSRN.com, email [email protected], and we will help you get a copy.

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