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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 83009 Find in a Library
Title: Violent Offender in the Criminal Justice System (From Criminal Violence, P 320-346, 1982, Marvin E Wolfgang and Neil Alan Weiner, ed. - See NCJ-83002)
Author(s): P W Greenwood
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 27
Sponsoring Agency: Sage Publications, Inc
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
Sale Source: Sage Publications, Inc
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The paper briefly reviews the evidence concerning how criminal justice activities can affect crime (through deterrence, rehabilitation, and incapacitation), looks at how specific types of offenders are treated within the system, and examines more closely the issues involved in determining appropriate sentence lengths.
Abstract: Research indicates that the impact of more police or tougher sentencing, policies usually advocated by the public to deal with rising crime, is problematic. Evaluations of treatment programs for offenders have not found any consistent rehabilitative effects, and cross-sectional deterrence studies do not show that harsher sanctions lead to reduced crime, due to methodological limitations inherent in the research designs. The only sure impact of harsher sentencing results from incapacitation, since offenses are prevented during the offenders' incarceration. Only about half of those adults arrested for violent crimes are ever convicted, and the factors that are related to the chances of conviction are whether the victim and offender were acquainted prior to the crime and the strength of the evidence. Factors that appear to increase the likelihood of incarceration for any violent offense are the defendant's prior record, the fact that victim and offender were strangers, the offender's use of a gun, and the offender's age. Career criminal prosecution programs do not appear to have increased conviction rates significantly. Moreover, treatment for violent offenders is inadequate. A sentencing policy resulting in longer terms for the few high-rate offenders and shorter terms for the majority, who are low-rate offenders, could increase the magnitude of incapacitation effects achieved by a given prison population size. The key research issue yet to be resolved is the accuracy with which the system can discriminate between the high-rate and low-rate groups. Notes, charts, tables, and about 30 references are provided.
Index Term(s): Convicted offender incapacitation; Convictions; Deterrence effectiveness; Rehabilitation; Sentencing reform; Treatment
Note: Originally appeared as number P-6638 of the Rand Paper Series, June 1981.
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