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NCJ Number: 98698 Find in a Library
Title: Risk Assessment vs Real Prediction - The Prediction Problem and Public Trust
Journal: Journal of Quantitative Criminology  Volume:1  Issue:2  Dated:(June 1985)  Pages:159-189
Author(s): L W Shannon
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 31
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study uses birth cohort data to show that although juvenile criminal careers can be used to place juveniles in risk categories for adult crime, they cannot be used to predict accurately the adult criminal careers of specific juveniles; data also indicate that serious juvenile offenders account for only a portion of the juveniles who ultimately commit serious offenses as adults.
Abstract: This study analyzed existing data sets: three longitudinal birth cohorts for 1942, 1949, and 1955 (6,127 persons, of whom 4,079 had continuous residence in Racine, Wis.). Data encompass official police contact records, referral records, and court dispositions for all cohorts. All police contacts were coded according to 26 categories of offenses. Age at first felony or major misdemeanor before or after age 16 could not predict who would have later police contacts or the number of contacts they will have for major misdemeanors, felonies, or Part I offenses. Juvenile offenders with the more extensive criminal records did, as a group, account for a disproportionate share of the delinquent and subsequent adult criminal behavior, but the serious juvenile offender subsequently accounts for only a small portion of adults who commit serious offenses. These findings argue against any attempt by the criminal justice system to selectively incapacitate serious juvenile offenders so as to preclude their committing serious crimes in the future. The future behavior of individual juvenile offenders cannot be accurately predicted regardless of their early criminal records, and should such prediction be possible, it would address only a small portion of juveniles who subsequently commit serious crimes as adults. Tabular study data, 6 references, and a 29-item bibliography (on career criminals, prediction, and problems in manadtory sentencing) are provided.
Index Term(s): Correlation of delinquency to adult crime; Criminality prediction; Dangerousness; Juvenile to adult criminal careers; Longitudinal studies; Selective incapacitation; Serious juvenile offenders; Wisconsin
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