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Selective Incapacitation?

NCJ Number
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Volume: 478 Dated: (March 1985) Pages: 135-149
Date Published
15 pages
This article describes the selective incapacitation proposal as well as the scientific and ethical controversies it has generated. An alternative strategy for using risk predictions is presented.
Selective incapacitation involves the incarceration of offenders predicted to be at high risk of future offending. Proponents of this proposal argue that it will both reduce crime and the number of persons in prison. Opponents claim that prediction accuracy is not sufficient to incorporate it in sentencing, since false positives will lead to the incarceration of low-risk offenders and false negatives will put high-risk offenders back in the community. The proposal is also challenged because it bases sentencing on possible future behavior rather than on conviction for the charged offense. Risk prediction could be used for the early release of inmates when prison capacities have been exceeded. Persons would continue to be sentenced under traditional sentencing criteria, but they would be given early release based on the prediction of future criminality. Ethical concerns about false positives under such a scheme would be mitigated, since those judged to be at high risk of recidivism would complete their initial sentences. 44 footnotes.

Date Published: January 1, 1985