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Risk Redux: The Resurgence of Risk Assessment in Criminal Sanctioning

Monahan, John and Skeem, Jennifer L., “Risk Redux: The Resurgence of Risk Assessment in Criminal Sanctioning” (October 28, 2013). Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2013-36. 

Abstract

After almost four decades of “just deserts,” the past several years have seen a remarkable resurgence of risk assessment as an essential component of criminal sanctioning. In this article, we review current practice in the incorporation of risk assessment into the sanctioning systems of several illustrative states, and describe the major dimensions on which state practices differ. We then elaborate the various meanings ascribed to the foundational concept of “risk” in criminal sanctioning, and contrast “risk” with what are now often called “criminogenic needs,” the fulfillment of which ostensibly reduce an offender’s level of “risk.” Finally, we address the choice of an approach to risk assessment in sentencing, particularly in the resource-starved state of current correctional practice.

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