Judicial Appraisals of Risk Assessment in Sentencing

26 Pages Posted: 2 May 2018  

John Monahan

University of Virginia School of Law

Anne Metz

University of Virginia

Brandon L. Garrett

University of Virginia - School of Law

Date Written: April 2018

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.

Keywords: Risk assessment, sentencing, judicial process, recidivism

Suggested Citation

Monahan, John and Metz, Anne and Garrett, Brandon L., Judicial Appraisals of Risk Assessment in Sentencing (April 2018). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2018-27. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3168644

John Monahan (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States
434-924-3632 (Phone)

Anne Metz

University of Virginia ( email )

1400 University Ave
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Brandon L. Garrett

University of Virginia - School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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