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Opening Arguments

A test you don't want to flunk

This sound a little Orwellian to anybody besides me?

INDIANAPOLIS - A felon's friends and hobbies could influence how much time he spends behind bars if the Indiana Supreme Court upholds a lower-court ruling.

At issue is a type of psychological test commonly used by probation officers to assess whether an offender is likely to commit more crimes and determine the level of supervision and type of treatment needed. A Tippecanoe County judge cited Anthony Malenchik's high test score in sentencing him to six years out of a possible 7 1/2 for receiving stolen property and being a habitual offender.

Malenchik appealed, but the appeals court upheld the judge's decision. Now, the Supreme Court is considering whether such tests have a place in the sentencing process. It heard arguments last month and is expected to rule in coming months.

The tests apparently aren't intended to be used in determining sentences, but this judge clearly used them that way and other jurists probably are, too. It bothers even Steve Johnson, executive director of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, who said the tests measure some things judges already consider, such as the risk of re-offense, so such factors might be double-counted.

It doesn't bother most of us -- at least not much --  when tests are used to "prove" sex offenders are likely to sin again and keep them prison longer. It's a little scarier, isn't it, that any of us might be subjected to a personality test that could determine our fate?


Bob G.
Tue, 11/17/2009 - 2:20pm

It's not that scary as long as you know HOW to take tests like this, and what answers the question givers are EXPECTING to see from you...
Therein lies the ONLY flaw.

Some folks are just damn good test-takers.
Everyone else...not so much.

This part of "the system" can be played like a dime store fiddle under specific circumstances.

But hey, I still have my #2 pencil...just in case.