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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 81660 Find in a Library
Title: Prediction of Violent Criminal Behavior - A Methodological Critique and Prospectus (From Deterrence and Incapacitation - Estimating the Effects of Criminal Sanctions on Crime Rates, P 244-269, 1978, Alfred Blumstein et al, ed.)
Author(s): J Monahan
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 26
Sponsoring Agency: National Acad of Sciences
Washington, DC 20418
National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Acad of Sciences
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National Institute of Justice/
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United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper suggests how the problem of predicting dangerous behavior might be clarified by improved methods of empirical research. Current public policies that rely on the prediction of violence are briefly reviewed, and current empirical data are summarized. Recommendations for future research in violence prediction are offered along with proposals for implementation.
Abstract: Two recent and contradictory trends in public policies are the increased reliance on the 'dangerous standard' as the primary or sole justification for civil commitment in the mental health system and the decreased reliance on predictions of violence in determining release from prison in the criminal justice system. The most striking conclusion to emerge from the eight major research efforts attempting to validate predictions of violence is the great degree to which violence is overpredicted. Violence is vastly overpredicted whether simple behavioral indicators or sophisticated multivariate analyses are employed and whether psychological tests or thorough psychiatric examinations are performed. Factors accounting for this overprediction include a lack of corrective feedback to the predictor, differential consequences to the predictor of overpredicting and underpredicting violence, illusory correlations between predictor variables and violent behavior, and others. The paper recommends that research on violence prediction employ multiple definitions of violence, multiple time periods for followup validation, and multiple methods of verifying the occurrence of violent behavior and should stress actuarial rather than clinical methods. Appropriate research strategies for each recommendation are detailed. Footnotes and 84 references are supplied.
Index Term(s): Criminality prediction; Dangerousness; Policy analysis; Research design; Violence
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