U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Dangerous Offenders: The Elusive Target of Justice

NCJ Number
M H Moore; S R Estrich; D McGillis; W Spelman
Date Published
252 pages
This book develops a framework for assessing policies that focus on dangerous offenders.
The book first examines general issues associated with the risks and benefits of targeting a particular category of offenders. It then outlines how this approach might work at each stage of criminal justice processing: sentencing, pretrial detention, prosecution, and investigation. Issues addressed include whether focusing on dangerous offenders is just, whether such a policy can be effective in managing the crime problem, which applications seem particularly valuable, what the long-term risks to social institutions are, and what uncertainties must be monitored and resolved as the policy evolves. Three broad principles qualify the authors' endorsement of selective policies for dealing with various types of offenders. First, such policies should be guided by a narrow definition of dangerousness. Second, selective policies should target those whose past acts have been particularly blameworthy rather than those projected to behave dangerously in the future. Third, the policies should not be viewed as a comprehensive solution to the problems of the criminal justice system. 21 tables, chapter notes, subject index, and appended study calculations.