Measuring Offender Risk: A Criminal Justice Sourcebook

Measuring Offender Risk: A Criminal Justice Sourcebook

Measuring Offender Risk: A Criminal Justice Sourcebook

Measuring Offender Risk: A Criminal Justice Sourcebook

Synopsis

Champion, an expert on criminal behavior, paroling, and sentencing, assesses how the justice system makes critical decisions about offender risks and needs. This sourcebook evaluates the instruments and methods used by local, state, and federal authorities at different stages and in different environments to handle both adult and juvenile offenders. Criminologists, penologists, and law enforcement personnel will see ways to optimize institutional classifications and parole board decisions, and to deal appropriately with various types of offenders. Appendices and a comprehensive bibliography, along with a complete index, enhance the usefulness of this reference tool.

Excerpt

Forecasts of dangerousness and risk are made during every stage of the criminal justice process. Prosecutors decide whether diversion should be granted certain offenders or whether they should be prosecuted. These difficult decisions are influenced greatly by each prosecutor's personal evaluation and belief that an offender can benefit more from more lenient treatment, such as diversion, rather than from a formal criminal prosecution which may result in a conviction and criminal record. More lenient treatment for many first offenders and their success rates from participating in diversion programs are tangible evidence that at least some offenders benefit from such leniency. Defense counsel may submit psychological assessments of their clients or have private corporations prepare reports designed to show why their clients would be good candidates for diversion instead of being prosecuted. Often, these reports include results from one or more prediction instruments which purportedly indicate the offender's rehabilitative potential and the unlikelihood of reoffending.

When probation officers and others prepare presentence investigation reports (PSIs) about convicted offenders for judicial sentencing decisions, these PSIs almost always contain a probation officer's assessment of offenders and the officer's recommendation for lenient or harsh treatment. Particularly in those jurisdictions that have loosely regulated, indeterminate sentencing systems, judicial discretion varies greatly and disparities in decision making are pervasive. While judges are not bound by these recommendations in PSI reports, these documents often influence judicial decision making.

Many jurisdictions have implemented guidelines-based schemes, mandatory sentencing models, and determinate sentencing plans. While these plans have been designed, in part, to objectify judicial decision making and ensure more equitable treatment for all convicted offenders in the sentences they receive, sen-

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