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NCJ Number: 78295 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Penal Policy and the Dangerous Offender - Remember the Poor Baker
Journal: Chitty's Law Journal  Volume:22  Issue:6  Dated:(1974)  Pages:191-203
Author(s): H H A Cooper
Date Published: 1974
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: California Planners
Oakland, CA 94618
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: Problems in classifying an offender as dangerous are discussed, along with appropriate correctional programs for these criminals.
Abstract: Difficulties in defining the dangerous offender lie in applying criteria to concrete cases, while maintaining due respect for fundamental rights, and in predicting dangerous behavior in any individual. A closer analysis of the definitional aspects of dangerousness consider the failure of criminal justice decisionmakers to articulate their concepts of danger, the effect of external situations on behavior, and groups that are targeted for protection by law enforcement agencies. Ideas of dangerousness are also influenced by fear and the nearness of a perceived threat. Predicting dangerousness poses even greater problems, particularly since judicial treatment of offenders is usually based on the assumption that past conduct is the only reliable indicator of future behavior. Moreover, the term 'psychopath' has been attached indiscriminately to many offenders, further confusing the prediction controversy. Since the death penalty is unlikely to gain acceptance in Western, nontotalitarian countries, the only alternatives for handling dangerous offenders are lengthy deprivation of liberty or some other form of physical restraint. If communities decide that certain offenders must be imprisoned for long periods, then they owe these individuals humane treatment programs in order to avoid destructive explosions such as riots or terrorist threats. Prisons throughout the world may be divided into those run by inmates, those run by guards, and those where power is shared. In reality, all have experienced ill treatment, brutality, and breakdowns in law and order. Excerpts from studies on California's San Quentin Prison demonstrate the ineffectiveness of conventional deterrence techniques on dangerous offenders' behavior. According to inmates, prison problems are caused primarily by lack of respect given to inmates and indiscriminate classification methods which lump mentally ill persons with criminals. Prisons for dangerous offenders should use reward-oriented treatment approaches to avoid increasing anger and frustration. Over 100 footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Dangerousness; Habitual offenders; Incarceration; Offender classification; Penology; Treatment; Violent offenders
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