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NCJ Number: 78816 Find in a Library
Title: Problems With Existing Prediction Studies and Future Research Needs
Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology  Volume:71  Issue:2  Dated:(Summer 1980)  Pages:98-101
Author(s): L T Wilkins
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 4
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper discusses problems concerning prediction techniques in relation to criminal justice decisionmaking.
Abstract: In criminological prognoses, the decisionmaker can erroneously predict (1) failure for the individual who succeeds, or (2) success for the individual who fails. These two kinds of error apply to all decisions or estimates irrespective of the means of derivation. The first kind of error is usually termed a 'false positive,' or 'overprediction.' Overpredictions tend to increase in proportion to the decrease in the number of individuals who fit the 'fail' category. False positives cannot be avoided. At present, statistical predictions, and by inference, all clinical predictions, produce a large number of false positives. The precision of prediction methods can probably be improved significantly by investing effort in three areas: the basic data, methods of input (coding) of basic data to analytical systems, and the analytical systems. Although the prediction of recidivism has been subject to a wide range of error, much greater accuracy has been obtained in the predictions of decisions of authorities in the criminal justice system (e.g., judges, parole officers, and probation officers). Modern decision theory and related practical methods can assist in decisionmaking where the objectives are clearly stated. The main issue today is not how to make predictions, but rather why to predict and when. Five footnotes are included.
Index Term(s): Criminality prediction; Estimating methods; Parole outcome prediction; Probation outcome prediction
Note: Presented at the Symposium on the Career Criminal Program held in Alexandria, Virginia, September 20-21, 1979.
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