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NCJ Number: 90395 Find in a Library
Title: Predicting Dangerousness - Symposium
Journal: Criminal Justice Ethics  Volume:2  Issue:1  Dated:(Winter/Spring 1983)  Pages:3-17
Author(s): Anonymous
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 15
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Academics, a judge, a parole board member, and psychiatrists discussed the accuracy of predictions concerning the future dangerousness of convicted criminals in a summary of a symposium broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation in June 1982.
Abstract: A justice with considerable experience in presiding over criminal trials commented that a good judge, through keen observation, develops an ability to sense dangerousness. A forensic psychiatrist emphasized that his role was usually to advise about the degree of disorder rather than predict future behavior. The parole decisionmaking process was discussed by a parole board member who said that both statistical and clinical predictions were considered. The moderator asked participants to comment on a recently published report which concluded that predictions about future offenses were hazardous, uncertain, and largely intuitive. A criminologist commented that previous convictions for violent offenses appeared to be a sound predictor, but the parole board member felt that possibly two-thirds of the supposedly dangerous criminals were in fact safe to be released. He also believed that this was the best the parole board could do, given existing research. A sociologist and a legal director of a mental health association used this statement and other research findings to demonstrate the unreliability of predictions. Finally, participants explored ways to improve prediction methods and whether preventive imprisonment went beyond appropriate retribution. Arguments centered on whether protection of the public justifies a system which makes a few mistakes by imprisoning individuals who are not dangerous; offenders' rights; and current public concern with violent crime which ignores injuries committed by drunk drivers, environmental polluters, and white-collar criminals.
Index Term(s): Criminality prediction; Dangerousness
Note: Participants were Anthony Bottoms, Jean Floud, Larry Gostin, John Gunn, Lord Edmund-Davies, Laurie Taylor, Nigel Walker, and Ted Honderich as Moderator.
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