Actuarial Risk Assessment at Sentencing: Potential Consequences for Mass Incarceration and Legitimacy

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2020

Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 20-01

37 Pages Posted: 14 Apr 2020 Last revised: 24 Oct 2020

Date Written: February 24, 2020

Abstract

The growing utilization of actuarial risk assessment instruments (RAIs) in the American criminal-justice system may potentially lead to more restrained, better-targeted uses of incarceration. However, critics have raised a variety of concerns regarding RAIs and suggested, among other things, that their incorporation into court procedures may tend to dehumanize defendants and exacerbate, rather than alleviate, mass incarceration. In response to such concerns, this essay offers recommendations for policy and practice that may help an increasingly risk-focused criminal-justice system to achieve decarceration goals — and to do so without undermining its own legitimacy in the eyes of defendants or the public at large. These recommendations are aimed particularly at judges, in their roles as sentencers and makers of courtroom and courthouse policy.

Final, published article available at https://doi.org/10.1002/bsl.2460.

Keywords: criminal justice, incarceration, sentencing, criminal justice

Suggested Citation

O'Hear, Michael M., Actuarial Risk Assessment at Sentencing: Potential Consequences for Mass Incarceration and Legitimacy (February 24, 2020). Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 38, No. 3, 2020, Marquette Law School Legal Studies Paper No. 20-01, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3543274

Michael M. O'Hear (Contact Author)

Marquette University - Law School ( email )

Sensenbrenner Hall
P.O. Box 1881
Milwaukee, WI 53201
United States
414-288-3587 (Phone)
414-288-5914 (Fax)

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
53
Abstract Views
320
rank
466,399
PlumX Metrics