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NCJ Number: 104181 Find in a Library
Title: Predicting the Career Criminal - An Empirical Test of the Greenwood Scale
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:77  Issue:1  Dated:(Spring 1986)  Pages:215-236
Author(s): S H Decker; B Salert
Date Published: 1986
Page Count: 23
Type: Research (Applied/Empirical)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Peter Greenwood's scale for predicting chronic offenders was tested and found inadequate based on an analysis that used data from the 1979 Survey of Inmates of State Correctional Facilities conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Abstract: The survey consisted of 11,397 interviews with inmates from 215 State correctional facilities. The study aimed to determine whether the Greenwood Scale could correctly identify inmates with higher numbers of incarcerations and whether it incorrectly classified as chronic offenders the inmates with few convictions. Greenwood's seven-item scale was modified slightly to match the survey data. The seven items included previous incarcerations, heroin or barbiturate use, unemployment, and incarceration prior to age 16. Inmates with higher Greenwood Scale scores had higher average numbers of prior incarcerations. However, predictions of individual cases were highly inaccurate. The best predictor was whether an inmate had been incarcerated as a juvenile. The scale did not predict some crime categories better than others. Thus, its use for sentencing individuals raises serious ethical questions. Other alternatives should be examined before selective incapacitation policies are given serious consideration. 5 tables and 50 footnotes.
Main Term(s): Criminality prediction
Index Term(s): Evaluation measures; Habitual offenders; Recidivism prediction; Selective incapacitation; Testing and measurement
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