Explaining Assessments of Future Risk

Sara Steen, Christine E. W. Bond, George S. Bridges and Charis E. Kubrin

in Our Children, Their Children

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780226319889
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226319919 | DOI:
Explaining Assessments of Future Risk

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This chapter describes how probation officers explain and assess the future risk of offending. Probation officers use qualitatively different kinds of attributions and explanations and rely on explanations about the immediate causes of the present offense. The analysis in the chapter presents three striking results. First, in the assessments of low-risk youths, there is no evidence that the internal/external dichotomy of attributions explains racial differences in the officers' perceptions of the offenders. Probation officers were not more likely to draw on internal attributions for African-American youths, or external attributions for white youths. Second, explanations mirroring the internal/external distinction between African-American and white youths were much more likely to be seen in the assessments of moderate-risk youths. Finally, the characterizations that probation officers used in high-risk assessments are not easily categorized into a theoretical framework of internal and external attributions.

Keywords: probation officers; low-risk youths; racial differences; African-American youths

Chapter.  10673 words. 

Subjects: Family Law

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