A Commentary on Statistical Assessment of Violence Recidivism Risk

Statistics and Public Policy, Forthcoming

47 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2015 Last revised: 20 Mar 2015

See all articles by Peter Imrey

Peter Imrey

Case Western Reserve University - Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine; Case Western Reserve University - Cleveland Clinic Dept. of Quantitative Health Sciences/JJN3

Philip Dawid

University of Cambridge

Date Written: March 12, 2014

Abstract

Increasing integration and availability of data on large groups of persons has been accompanied by proliferation of statistical and other algorithmic prediction tools in banking, insurance, marketing, medicine, and other fields (see e.g., Steyerberg (2009a;b)). Controversy may ensue when such tools are introduced to fields traditionally reliant on individual clinical evaluations. Such controversy has arisen about "actuarial" assessments of violence recidivism risk, i.e., the probability that someone found to have committed a violent act will commit another during a specified period. Recently Hart et al. (2007a) and subsequent papers from these authors in several reputable journals have claimed to demonstrate that statistical assessments of such risks are inherently too imprecise to be useful, using arguments that would seem to apply to statistical risk prediction quite broadly. This commentary examines these arguments from a technical statistical perspective, and finds them seriously mistaken in many particulars. They should play no role in reasoned discussions of violence recidivism risk assessment.

Keywords: criminal justice, violence recidivism, risk prediction, individual risk, actuarial risk assessment instruments, statistical methodology

Suggested Citation

Imrey, Peter and Dawid, Alexander, A Commentary on Statistical Assessment of Violence Recidivism Risk (March 12, 2014). Statistics and Public Policy, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2579305 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2579305

Peter Imrey (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University - Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine ( email )

Cleveland Clinic
9500 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44195
United States
216-444-0923 (Phone)
216-444-8023 (Fax)

Case Western Reserve University - Cleveland Clinic Dept. of Quantitative Health Sciences/JJN3 ( email )

Cleveland Clinic
9500 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44195
United States
216-444-0923 (Phone)
216-444-8023 (Fax)

Alexander Dawid

University of Cambridge ( email )

King's Parade
Cambridge, CB3 0DS
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~apd/

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