Questioning the Validity of Using Risk Assessment Tools

Indiana Juvenile Justice Blog

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has recently criticized using risk-assessment tools as part of determining a sentence or disposition, such as the Indiana Risk Assessment System (IRAS) in criminal cases and the Indiana Youth Assessment System (IYAS) in delinquency cases.  In his speech to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers on August 1, 2014, he stated:

“…[L]legislators have introduced the concept of “risk assessments” that seek to assign a probability to an individual’s likelihood of committing future crimes and, based on those risk assessments, make sentencing determinations. Although these measures were crafted with the best of intentions, I am concerned that they may inadvertently undermine our efforts to ensure individualized and equal justice. By basing sentencing decisions on static factors and immutable characteristics – like the defendant’s education level, socioeconomic background, or neighborhood – they may exacerbate unwarranted and unjust disparities that are already far too common in our criminal…

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What Is a Certificate of Disposition?

The term Certificate of Disposition refers to an official document issued by a court system that indicates the events that happened in a certain criminal case. You’ll need to get it for each unlawful act that you commit.

The Certificate of Disposition states the final disposition of a case or its present status. You’ll need this document for various purposes. First of all, you’ll need to have proof that the case where you were a defendant is over. This documentation is highly valuable to demonstrate to whom is may concern that the case has a final disposition and that there are no further charges against you. It could also mean that you’ve paid your debt to society and that you’re a free man at the moment.

The Certificate of Disposition will also be mandatory in a few life-changing circumstances such as renting an apartment, applying for U.S. citizenship, getting your license or applying for a new job. That’s why it’s better to obtain it as soon as possible to avoid any misunderstandings.

In order to retrieve this document, you’ll need to go to the clerk of the court belonging to the county where your case was filed. You’ll need to pay a $10 fee and to provide a few details about the case such as the docket number or the Superior Court Information (SCI) number.

If you don’t know any of these numbers or you lost the documentation, you can ask the Court Clerk to find it for you by telling the date of conviction, the name of the parties involved in the case and the unlawful act that you’ve committed. Just remember that Criminal Courts deal with violations and misdemeanors while the Supreme Court, Criminal Division deals with felonies. So you’ll have to address to the right court in the county.

You can always go to the notary public and write a notarized authorization to grant permission for someone else to obtain your Certificate of Disposition if you don’t want to do this yourself. You could also hire a specialized company that will get this document for you in exchange for a fee (that’s typically around $100).

The Certificate of Disposition is a one page record of the basic things about an criminal instance. You’ll need to get this document for each conviction to be able to prove the current status of the cases which you were involved in.

The woman with one foot out the door


It was in and then it wasn’t. She was in it a 100% and then it went down to 50. She was glowing with the feeling of being ‘all in’ and then she wasn’t. She thought this was it and then it wasn’t. She looked around and saw so many walking by, with both feet firmly planted in their choices, in their passions. Their minds filled with thoughts of just the one thing they had committed to. But her’s was filled with many thoughts. Conflicting, complementing, jarring, serene. The neurones were holding hands and then they were at war. It was a sparkling thunderstorm in her mind and then she was one foot out the door. When she had walked in so many months ago, she had felt that this answered all her questions. But then it didn’t. She had been so excited at the prospect of belonging to this…

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