Dangerousness and Criminal Justice

The first section of this paper surveys some recent writings on the topic of dangerousness for major inconsistencies, which we regard as illuminating the special problem of dangerousness in the jurisprudence of criminal sentencing.

The second section describes the “special problem of dangerousness,” for, we believe, the first time. The special problem is the fear that any admission of calculations of dangerousness into sentencing decisions will lead to an overuse of dangerousness, which may be worse than the inefficiencies and hypocrisies we confront when denying that future dangerousness is relevant to decisions about prisons.

The third section attempts to reorganize the recent debate about a variety of jurisprudential and procedural aspects of dangerousness. We argue that most recent contributions to the jurisprudence of dangerousness can best be understood as attempts to limit the overuse problem discussed in the preceding section.