Risk assessments are being used to sentence people to jail and death


States are trying to reduce prison populations with secretive, new psychological assessments to predict which inmates will commit future crimes and who might be safe to release, despite serious problems and high-profile failures.

Fred Osher, who heads the behavioral health division of the 

Council of State Governments’ Justice Center


“We do not have the capability to predict violent actions.” "Arrest and incarceration,” Osher continued, “are not an acceptable substitute for providing an individual with appropriate care.”

Five things to know about risk assessment surveys:

THEY COULD BE USED IN A COURT SYSTEM NEAR YOU: Dozens of different surveys are being used across the country. The surveys vary in the kinds of questions asked and how they are used. Largely confined to parole and probation decisions, these surveys are increasingly being used for sentencing.IT'S A SECRET: The survey results — and in some cases the actual survey questions — are clouded in secrecy. Some states never release the evaluations, shielding government officials from being held accountable for decisions that affect public safety.100 QUESTIONS: Some of the surveys can include more than 100 questions and explore a defendant's education, family, income, job status, history of moving, parents' arrest history, or whether he or she has a phone. A score is affixed to each answer and the result helps shape how the defendant will be supervised in the system.HONEST CRIMINALS: Many of the surveys rely on criminals to tell the truth, though jurisdictions do not always check to make sure the answers are accurate. Something as basic as the age of an offender's first arrest could have an impact on the risk score.PUNISHED FOR BEING POOR: Some of these surveys have the potential to punish people for being poor or

 uneducated by attaching a lower risk to those who have steady work and high levels of education.

According to the Marshall Project 

"Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes." "Risk assessments have existed in various forms for a century, but over the past two decades, they have spread through the American justice system, driven by advances in social science. The tools try to predict recidivism — repeat offending or breaking the rules of probation or parole — using statistical probabilities based on factors such as age, employment history and prior criminal record."They are now used at some stage of the criminal justice process in nearly every state. Many court systems use the tools to guide decisions about which prisoners to release on parole, for example, and risk assessments are becoming increasingly popular as a way to help set bail for inmates awaiting trial. 

Threat assessments are being used in Texas and many other states...

“In Texas, the determination of who lives and who dies is based on predictions of future dangerousness that have been renounced as unreliable and without scientific validity by the leading mental health associations,” said Andrea Keilen, Deputy Director of Texas Defender Service. “The integrity of the Texas sentencing scheme is on par with medieval trials by ordeal. We would do just as well to drop people in boiling water to see whether they float” Keilen said.

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 to find out more about Texas's risk assessment program.

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 to read about California's. 

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 to read about New York's 

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 to read about Florida's 

The American Psychiatric Association even wrote an 

amicus brief

 explaining no one can predict with any degree of reliability that an individual will commit crimes in the future: 

“The unreliability of psychiatric predictions of long-term future dangerousness is by now an established fact within the profession.” The Association continues to urge that expert psychiatric testimony on future dangerousness be deemed inadmissible at capital sentencing hearings.  

“There are strong reasons to question the accuracy of predictions of violence made by prosecution experts in capital murder trials. It seems impossible to reconcile the glaring inaccuracy of the predictions made by these experts with the requirement that death sentences be meted out in a non-capricious manner,” said Dr. John Edens. “It is incumbent on mental health experts to avoid engaging in fraudulent testimony that is lacking in any meaningful scientific foundation.”

"Psychiatric predictions based on hypothetical situations sometimes bear more resemblance to medieval fortune-telling than to modern scientific techniques."

The Dept. of Justice (DoJ) and the 

Pretrial Justice Institute

 (PJI) wrote a B.S. study claiming pretrial assessments are scientifically valid called the "

State Of the Science Of Pretrial Risk Assessment



Bureau of Justice Assistance

 (BJA) is committed to assisting local jurisdictions as they strive to meet national, evidence-based standards on pretrial release. As part of this commitment, the Bureau convened leading researchers and professionals in the field of pretrial justice to discuss the efficacy and implementation of pretrial risk assessment. The purpose of the meeting was to determine how best to successfully assist local systems in the development and use of an evidence-based approach to pretrial justice. This document raises many questions and issues worthy of further investigation and study, but it also demystifies much of the misunderstandings involved in the development and application of these useful tools."  

Is this a joke? There are numerous scientific articles saying pre-crime assessments are B.S. so why are they claiming it's scientific? It's all about money, EVERYONE in the criminal justice system profits by keeping 2.5 million Americans behind bars!

FYI, the BJA is part of the DoJ which has close ties to DHS.

"Our thanks to the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) for organizing the meeting and continually supporting the use of validated pretrial risk assessments in every jurisdiction and the National Institute of Justice for its participation in this meeting."

The PJI has close ties to DHS, their new Executive Director Fanno Burdeen, Chairman of The Board 

used to work for DHS

. PJI's Director Emeritus Timothy Murray used to work with 

DHS and the TSA

If one had any hopes of an unbiased study about pretrial criminal assessments they've just gone out the cell door!

Why does the NACDL, ACLU, Innocence Project etc. all support pretrial sentencing?

The PJI Survey results indicate that objective pretrial risk assessment instruments are increasingly being used by jurisdictions across the country. 

The PJI survey found that of those pretrial programs that do risk assessment, 42% report having developed their risk assessment procedures based on research done in their own jurisdictions on the factors that are related to pretrial misconduct, and about one third adapted their risk assessments from other jurisdictions. 

So to recap, the DoJ thinks its fine for states to make up their own risk assessments which are used to sentence or kill defendants!

Survey results indicate that 48% of pretrial programs have never validated their instruments, a statistic that has remained unchanged from 2001 to 2009. One concern, however, is that there is no standard method being used for the “validation of a risk assessment instrument.”

I'm trying not to vomit as the DOJ and the PJI admitted there are no national standards for risk assessments and nearly 50% of the assessment programs are junk but trust them, they're looking out for defendants rights! 

"Pretrial risk assessment is the determination of a quantitative or qualitative value of risk related to a pretrial defendant and his or her specific circumstances, and the first step in the risk management process. Risk management means balancing the constitutional rights of the defendant with the risk the defendant poses using effective supervision and strategic interventions."

The American Police State is assessing every student, home and much more:

American students from 

kindergarten through college

 are being given RISK ASSESSMENTS.

American students are also being given 



Americans travelling inside the country are being given 



Americans homes are being given