Selective Incapacitation Revisited

Why the High-Rate Offenders are Hard to Predict

by Peter W. Greenwood, Susan Turner


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This is a final report of a project designed to explore the relationship between (1) self-reports of offenses and (2) recorded arrests as indicators of individual offense rates. The findings suggest that high-rate offenders cannot be accurately identified, either prospectively or retrospectively, on the basis of their arrest rates alone. More effort must be devoted to checking on the reliability of and resolving inconsistencies in the information provided by individual respondents. Unless it is possible to identify some specific characteristics of high-rate offenders or their recorded offenses that can distinguish their expected probability of arrest from the average experienced by all offenders, individual arrest rates will remain a poor predictor of individual offense rates within a chronic offender population.

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