Selective incapacitation: A note on its impact on minorities

Scott H. Decker, Barbara Salert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Selective incapacitation has been proposed as a more judicious use of corrections. That is, through predicting and segregating high rate offenders, the goals of crime reduction and more efficient use of prison space can be realized. The Greenwood scale has been proposed as a device that can accurately predict which offenders are likely to be high rate offenders. Before such scales can be implemented for policy purposes, though, it is imperative that the scale items used do not discriminate unfairly between blacks and whites, men and women, rich and poor. This article examines the impact of such a scale on sentencing recommendations for each of these groups. The findings indicate that disadvantaged groups in society (blacks, women, and the poor) are more likely to receive higher Greenwood scale scores, and thus designation as high rate offenders, even when controls for prior offenses are included. The implications of this and related findings are discussed for the use of such predictive devices in criminal justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-299
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Criminal Justice
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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