Risk, Race, and Sentencing
One way to begin unwinding mass incarceration without compromising public safety is to use risk assessment instruments in sentencing. Although these instruments figure prominently in current reforms, there are concerns that benefits in crime control will be offset by costs in social justice—i.e., a disparate and adverse effect on racial minorities and the poor. In the present study, judges and attorneys were given one of four written case vignettes in which the defendant’s socioeconomic status and the presence of risk assessment were manipulated. Past results suggest that risk assessment does not exacerbate any sentencing disparities based on SES.