CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Friday, December 8, 2023

DeMichele et al. on Criminal History, Race, and Pretrial Assessment Instruments

Matthew DeMicheleChristopher InkpenIan Silver, and Jason Walker (RTI International, RTI International, RTI International and RTI International) have posted How Long is Long Enough: Using Abbreviated Criminal Histories for Pretrial Assessment Instruments? on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The debate over pretrial assessment instruments focuses largely on the potential for instruments to exacerbate racial disparities. This study examines the effects of using different recall periods for the criminal history items on the New Criminal Arrest (NCA) scale from the Public Safety Assessment. Using jail admission data from a large jurisdiction, we varied the recall period – from 1 to 10 years prior to the current arrest – for the criminal history items on the NCA scale and examined scoring differences and the predictive validity of the tool by race. The results showed reductions in the proportion of Black people scored as high risk and no loss in validity using a shorter criminal history review. The current study demonstrates that shorter recall periods for criminal history items on pretrial instruments could potentially provide a direct and practical strategy to mitigate the effects of mass incarceration, while maintaining predictive validity.

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