Causal attributions in expert parole decisions

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Abstract

The 5 members of the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole filled out a questionnaire after each of 272 parole release hearings. They indicated their recommendations for release on parole, rated the importance of various factors in their decisions, and made open-ended causal attributions regarding the current offense and the criminal history. Parole recommendations were significantly more favorable for cases given unstable rather than stable causal attributions. Analyses of the importance of decision considerations showed that the Board considered special deterrence, risk of future crime, and likelihood of rehabilitation most centrally in their recommendations. The Board was not evaluating the severity of crimes in order to punish offenders, apparently leaving that to the judge's sentence. The stability of attributions had its effect upon recommendations by influencing judgments of the risk of future crime. (33 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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