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Race

Faculty Scholarship

Law Enforcement and Corrections

2015

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Risk As A Proxy For Race: The Dangers Of Risk Assessment, Bernard E. Harcourt Jan 2015

Risk As A Proxy For Race: The Dangers Of Risk Assessment, Bernard E. Harcourt

Faculty Scholarship

Actuarial risk assessment in the implementation and administration of criminal sentencing has a long history in this country – a long and fraught history. Today, many progressive advocates promote the use of actuarial risk assessment instruments as part of a strategy to reduce the problem of "mass incarceration." Former Attorney General Eric Holder has called on the U.S. Sentencing Commission to hold hearings to further consider the matter of risk assessment and prediction tools in sentencing and parole.

The objective – to reduce our massive over-incarceration in this country – is critical and noble. But risk assessment tools are simply …