12 Crim. Just. & Behavior 3 (1985)

handle is hein.journals/crmjusbhv12 and id is 1 raw text is: 


ON GUIDELINES, UNIQUENESS,
AND ACCOUNTABILITY

Exchange III



            LETTER FROM TOCH TO WILKINS

  One movement that is sweeping the country is that of
actuarially-derived guidelines that limit the discretion of those
who make decisions affecting people's futures. As the father of
this trend, you are justifiably proud of it. We are reducing
unfettered arbitrariness by enforcing reliability that imposes
rules on fateful judgments. Those who dissent from rules must
tell us why they dissent.
  You say this reduces tyranny, but what about bureaucratic
anonymity? If machines do sentencing, ajudge is not an arbitrary
and personal tyrant, but may become a reliable and impersonal
apparatchik who does not take the responsibility because it rests
in the machine-hence, nowhere. How does one appeal a
prediction table? Who is one to blame if a released felon offends
the next day, horrendously, in defiance of probabilities? The
judge is now exempt-which he may like-but there is no one for
concerned citizens or victims (or offenders who find the logic of
prediction tables hard to translate into their personal fate) to
relate to, and what impotence is greater than that? And in an
unadulterated use of this system, what pride or skill or self-esteem
is there in being ajudge? In fact, who needs one? I admit this is all
a political point, but isn't yours as well?
  The point you would expect me to make is: How do we keep
respect for, and attention to uniqueness (which only the mind can
assess) in the composite equation? Or, to put the matter
differently: How do we combine reliable extrapolations from

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 12 No. 1, March 1985 3-8
@ 1985 American Association of Correctional Psychologists

                                                         3


from the SAGE Social Science Collections. All Rights Reserved.

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