Dangerousness and death: a nexus in search of science and reason

Am Psychol. 2006 Nov;61(8):828-839. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.61.8.828.


An assertion that a capital offender will engage in future acts of criminal violence is a factor in determining "death worthiness" in many jurisdictions of the United States. The legislative conception and court affirmation of this issue as a capital consideration were products of the parole policy and prison capability of an earlier era as well as of the limitations of risk assessment methodology and findings at that time. The intuitive assumptions that support assertions of future dangerousness as a death penalty issue have been rendered irrelevant by changing prison conditions and parole policies or have been refuted by current findings. This raises important questions for a reasoned public policy in capital sentencing. ((c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Capital Punishment / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Dangerous Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Jurisprudence*
  • United States
  • Violence