Probability of Criminal Acts of Violence: A Test of Jury Predictive Accuracy


Correspondence to: Thomas J. Reidy, 154 Central Avenue, Salinas, CA 93901, U.S.A. E-mail:


The ability of capital juries to accurately predict future prison violence at the sentencing phase of aggravated murder trials was examined through retrospective review of the disciplinary records of 115 male inmates sentenced to either life (n = 65) or death (n = 50) in Oregon from 1985 through 2008, with a mean post-conviction time at risk of 15.3 years. Violent prison behavior was completely unrelated to predictions made by capital jurors, with bidirectional accuracy simply reflecting the base rate of assaultive misconduct in the group. Rejection of the special issue predicting future violence enjoyed 90% accuracy. Conversely, predictions that future violence was probable had 90% error rates. More than 90% of the assaultive rule violations committed by these offenders resulted in no harm or only minor injuries. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.