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NCJ Number: 139899 Find in a Library
Title: Is It Unethical To Offer Predictions of Future Violence?
Journal: Law and Human Behavior  Volume:16  Issue:6  Dated:(December 1992)  Pages:621-633
Author(s): T Grisso; P S Appelbaum
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Chicago, IL 60603
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis of the nature, foundation, and legal consequences of predictive testimony regarding future dangerousness concludes that such testimony is not necessarily unethical.
Abstract: Predictions can be stated in several ways. Dichotomous statements that a person is or is not dangerous are clearly ethically questionable. However, predictive testimony in the form of probabilistic or comparative risk statements may be based on reliable research findings. Although clinicians have sometimes failed to abide by accepted principles for applying an empirical base in individual assessments, these failures do not render all violence predictions unethical. Furthermore, the potential for a significant number of false-positive legal decisions does not necessarily make predictive testimony ethically improper, because society does not require certainty about future violence to restrict certain liberties. Proponents of a ban on all predictive testimony by mental health professionals may have identified circumstances in which predictive statements cannot be considered ethical, but this conclusion cannot be generalized to all other contexts. Therefore, psychology, psychiatry, and the courts should not conclude that all predictions of dangerousness are unethical. Footnotes and 37 references (Author abstract modified)
Main Term(s): Criminality prediction; Expert witnesses
Index Term(s): Dangerousness; Probabilistic evidence; Professional conduct and ethics; Psychiatric testimony
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