Judicial Reliance on Risk Assessment in Sentencing Drug and Property Offenders: A Test of the Treatment Resource Hypothesis

13 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2019 Last revised: 20 Aug 2019

See all articles by Brandon L. Garrett

Brandon L. Garrett

Duke University School of Law

Alexander Jakubow

Duke University School of Law

John Monahan

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: August 12, 2019

Abstract

For almost two decades, Virginia has used risk assessment to justify “alternative” nonprison sentences for eligible drug and property offenders. In Study 1, we examined how frequently alternative sentences actually were imposed. We found that alternative sentences were given to only 42% of low-risk offenders. In Study 2, we tested the hypothesis that a lack of treatment resources explains why many judges fail to offer alternative sentences. We focused on the availability of mental health and substance abuse treatment resources across judicial circuits. Our findings support the “treatment resource hypothesis” as one explanation for variation among courts and judges in the extent to which alternative sentences are offered to low-risk offenders. To the extent that treatment resources available in a jurisdiction lead to increased judicial use of risk assessment to sentence low-risk offenders to nonjail alternatives, providing these resources will be crucial in reducing mass incarceration.

Keywords: risk assessment, alternative sentences, treatment resources, drug and property crimes

Suggested Citation

Garrett, Brandon L. and Jakubow, Alexander and Monahan, John, Judicial Reliance on Risk Assessment in Sentencing Drug and Property Offenders: A Test of the Treatment Resource Hypothesis (August 12, 2019). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2019-42; Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2019-56. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3436328

Brandon L. Garrett (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States
919-613-7090 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.brandonlgarrett.com/

Alexander Jakubow

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

John Monahan

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

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

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