Judicial decision thresholds for violence risk management

John Monahan, Eric Silver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


To affect violence risk management decisions, it is necessary to apply a decision threshold to the estimates that actuarial violence risk assessments generate. Despite widespread agreement that the choice of decision threshold is a matter of policy rather than of science, no one has actually asked policy makers about their choices. A survey was conducted asking 26 judges where they would set the decision threshold for instituting short-term civil commitment as a “danger to others.” The five risk assessment options communicated to the judges were the Risk Classes obtained in the MacArthur Study. Results showed great variability among judges. As a group, however, judges chose Risk Class 3 – a 0.26 likelihood of committing a violent act – as their decision threshold for short-term civil commitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Forensic Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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