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# Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade

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Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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06 May 2016, 08:44
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46% (01:40) correct 54% (01:58) wrong based on 408 sessions

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Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade for sentencing criminals to make amends for their crimes—for example, by apologizing to the victim—rather than sending them to jail. He argues that the rate of recidivism, or the likelihood that the criminal will commit another offense, is only 15% when he does so, while the average rate of recidivism in the country as a whole is above 35%. Judge Brown thus argues that the criminal justice system is most effective when criminals make amends for their crime, rather than serving time.

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports Judge Brown’s claim?
A. The majority of the defendants that the judge sees are already repeat offenders who are statistically more likely to continue their offenses.
B. The offenders who went on to commit a crime after making amends were less likely to commit a violent crime than were those who were repeat offenders who served time.
C. Many of the sentenced criminals who made amends were those who expressed to Judge Brown a willingness to do so.
D. Victims of the crimes were happier when the judged sentenced criminals to make amends, rather than when he sentenced them to serve time.
E. A judge in a neighboring district found that, in his jurisdiction, criminals sentenced to make amends committed repeat offenses in 22% of cases.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
It says the right answer choice is A

How does A support the Judge's claim? I think this answer choice actually weakens the claim because it talks about repeat offenders who may or may not have already made amends in the past which would prove the Brown's plan for amends to be ineffective? The argument doesn't talk about repeat offenders and whether these amends are just as effective for those types of offenders. I don't really understand the explanation video either.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

Last edited by Vyshak on 27 Nov 2016, 06:15, edited 2 times in total.
Spoiler used to hide the OA

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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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06 May 2016, 14:59
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Silviax wrote:
Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade for sentencing criminals to make amends for their crimes—for example, by apologizing to the victim—rather than sending them to jail. He argues that the rate of recidivism, or the likelihood that the criminal will commit another offense, is only 15% when he does so, while the average rate of recidivism in the country as a whole is above 35%. Judge Brown thus argues that the criminal justice system is most effective when criminals make amends for their crime, rather than serving time.

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports Judge Brown’s claim?
A. The majority of the defendants that the judge sees are already repeat offenders who are statistically more likely to continue their offenses.
B. The offenders who went on to commit a crime after making amends were less likely to commit a violent crime than were those who were repeat offenders who served time.
C. Many of the sentenced criminals who made amends were those who expressed to Judge Brown a willingness to do so.
D. Victims of the crimes were happier when the judged sentenced criminals to make amends, rather than when he sentenced them to serve time.
E. A judge in a neighboring district found that, in his jurisdiction, criminals sentenced to make amends committed repeat offenses in 22% of cases.

It says the right answer choice is A

How does A support the Judge's claim? I think this answer choice actually weakens the claim because it talks about repeat offenders who may or may not have already made amends in the past which would prove the Brown's plan for amends to be ineffective? The argument doesn't talk about repeat offenders and whether these amends are just as effective for those types of offenders. I don't really understand the explanation video either.

Dear Silviax,
I'm happy to respond.

Think about this way. Judge Brown has convicts apologize to crime victims, and he argues that this is what causes the low rate of recidivism. Think of what a skeptic would say.
"Maybe the criminals that Judge Brown sees are not hardened criminals. They are folks who easily feel sorry for the crimes they committed, and thus are more likely to feel willing to apologize. Such criminals are also, by their very nature, less likely to repeat their crimes, because they already feel sorry for what they have done. Thus, the low recidivism rate would be due to the characters of the individual convicts involved, and participation in Judge Brown's program of apologizing would just be an unrelated detail."
If that view were really true, it would be devastating to Judge Brown's argument. How do we know that the folks who went through Judge Brown's program have lowers recidivism rate because of that program and not because of some other factor about who they are? This is the biggest objection to the prompt arguments at it stands.

Choice (A) addresses this in a powerful way. If the folks Judge Brown sees are repeat offenders, folks that typically have a much higher recidivism rate, and after participating in Judge Brown's programs, even these hardened embittered repeat offenders are much less likely to continue their life of crime. then that's powerful. The programs takes the population most like to repeat their offense, and makes even these people less like to repeat. Wow! If something works on the hardest imaginable case, then it really works! This is why it's such a powerful strengthener for the argument.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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07 May 2016, 19:47
Yes, I see what you are saying. I still think it's doubtful whether repeat offenders would be "cured" from pursuing criminal activities by simply apologizing to their victims, but I guess that's not the point here and only my own opinion.

That's why I am having a hard time with critical reasoning questions. I always want to reason and evaluate based on my opinion and not based on what the argument is implying.

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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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09 May 2016, 13:43
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Silviax wrote:
Yes, I see what you are saying. I still think it's doubtful whether repeat offenders would be "cured" from pursuing criminal activities by simply apologizing to their victims, but I guess that's not the point here and only my own opinion.

That's why I am having a hard time with critical reasoning questions. I always want to reason and evaluate based on my opinion and not based on what the argument is implying.

Dear Silviax,
I'm happy to respond.

Yes, if we were drawing conclusions on our own, indeed it would not be the easiest conclusion to accept that repeat offenders would be reformed simply by the act of apologizing to victims. That's absolutely true.

In this argument, we know from the prompt that the recidivism rate for the convicts that Judge Brown has apologize has dropped to 15%, down from the standard 35%. That's evidence, so we know that. Now, if (A) is true, then the argument would be telling us, as fact that we should accept, that these hard-to-reform repeat offenders are the ones Judge Brown is seeing, and he is able to reform even these people. Again, this would hard to posit on our own, but we don't have to: the question is making all this clear for us.

It's good to have a general sense of what is realistic and what is not, but on GMAT CR, you really have to be rigorous about exactly what is said and what isn't. You have to treat it the way you might treat math: one little difference can change everything, so you have to pay attention to each last detail.

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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09 May 2016, 15:56
Hi Mike,

yes, it makes total sense now. Thanks!

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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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09 May 2016, 20:25
I was able to eliminate option C,D and E. I find option B to be strengthening the case in the first look. Although option A is a powerful one which leaves little to no doubts about the argument, option B successfully managed to distract me.
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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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30 Oct 2016, 00:05
mikemcgarry wrote:
Dear Silviax,
I'm happy to respond.

Think about this way. Judge Brown has convicts apologize to crime victims, and he argues that this is what causes the low rate of recidivism. Think of what a skeptic would say.
"Maybe the criminals that Judge Brown sees are not hardened criminals. They are folks who easily feel sorry for the crimes they committed, and thus are more likely to feel willing to apologize. Such criminals are also, by their very nature, less likely to repeat their crimes, because they already feel sorry for what they have done. Thus, the low recidivism rate would be due to the characters of the individual convicts involved, and participation in Judge Brown's program of apologizing would just be an unrelated detail."
If that view were really true, it would be devastating to Judge Brown's argument. How do we know that the folks who went through Judge Brown's program have lowers recidivism rate because of that program and not because of some other factor about who they are? This is the biggest objection to the prompt arguments at it stands.

Choice (A) addresses this in a powerful way. If the folks Judge Brown sees are repeat offenders, folks that typically have a much higher recidivism rate, and after participating in Judge Brown's programs, even these hardened embittered repeat offenders are much less likely to continue their life of crime. then that's powerful. The programs takes the population most like to repeat their offense, and makes even these people less like to repeat. Wow! If something works on the hardest imaginable case, then it really works! This is why it's such a powerful strengthener for the argument.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Hi Mike,

I indeed had this reasoning while solving this question but what kept me from concluding anything was a counter-theory. And that was the reason i could not mark A. Here it is:

1) From the prompt we have- 'the likelihood that the criminal will commit another offense, is only 15% when he does so...'
- This is a generic theory that the Judge puts and this applies to all criminals.

2) From option A we have- 'The majority of the defendants that the judge sees are already repeat offenders...'
- This is talking about ONLY the criminals that the Judge sees.

Now, the reasoning that you gave above takes a leap and combines (1) and (2). There is no reason to believe that the theory Judge gives in (1) applies to the group of criminals in (2). It may or may not. A is not foolproof.

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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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30 Oct 2016, 21:37
arhumsid wrote:
Hi Mike,

I indeed had this reasoning while solving this question but what kept me from concluding anything was a counter-theory. And that was the reason i could not mark A. Here it is:

1) From the prompt we have- 'the likelihood that the criminal will commit another offense, is only 15% when he does so...'
- This is a generic theory that the Judge puts and this applies to all criminals.

2) From option A we have- 'The majority of the defendants that the judge sees are already repeat offenders...'
- This is talking about ONLY the criminals that the Judge sees.

Now, the reasoning that you gave above takes a leap and combines (1) and (2). There is no reason to believe that the theory Judge gives in (1) applies to the group of criminals in (2). It may or may not. A is not foolproof.

Dear arhumsid,

I'm happy to respond.

Anything stated in a CR prompt as fact is evidence, and we must accept it as true. Even if a character in the prompt cites something as fact, we need to accept that evidence and treat it as true.

The prompt say that the judge argues (1) is true for ALL criminals. We have to take this as evidence, as something true, a statement true about all criminals. Thus, it would be true about the criminals that appear before him or before any other judge. Thus, if (2) is true about the criminals that appear before him, then both (1) & (2) would apply.

Does this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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09 Apr 2017, 10:12
Hi Mike,

Could you please elaborate a little one why (E) is a weak answer choice?

My initial thought process between (E) and (A) was:
- (A) strongly augments the argument that Judge Brown has has success in reducing recidivism through sentencing amendments versus imprisonment. Ultimately, this is still one case where such an approach was successful
- (E), although not as strong a supporting fact in Judge Brown's case, exemplifies another scenario where sentencing amendments, as opposed to imprisonment, reduces recidivism. In my mind, this effectively doubles the strength of the general statement that "the criminal justice system is most effective when criminals make amends for their crime, rather than serving time."

Thanks!
Kyle

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Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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09 Apr 2017, 10:38
ykz wrote:
Hi Mike,

Could you please elaborate a little one why (E) is a weak answer choice?

My initial thought process between (E) and (A) was:
- (A) strongly augments the argument that Judge Brown has has success in reducing recidivism through sentencing amendments versus imprisonment. Ultimately, this is still one case where such an approach was successful
- (E), although not as strong a supporting fact in Judge Brown's case, exemplifies another scenario where sentencing amendments, as opposed to imprisonment, reduces recidivism. In my mind, this effectively doubles the strength of the general statement that "the criminal justice system is most effective when criminals make amends for their crime, rather than serving time."

Thanks!
Kyle

Your reasoning is fine and such a reasoning is used in real world a lot. Even mostly in GMAT RCs Author would first say a little -ve about some theory or concept and then he will show some facts and later show the worth of the theory. This surely brings the reader to believe in that theory.

But here in this question this is not applicable because of the stats that Premise shows. here is it:

Conclusion says demands MOST EFFECTIVENESS. For this, criminals making amends for their crime would be considered EFFECTIVE if average comes down to 15% from 35%. But 35% to 22% would not be considered MOST EFFECTIVE.
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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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27 Aug 2017, 02:39
mikemcgarry wrote:
Silviax wrote:
Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade for sentencing criminals to make amends for their crimes—for example, by apologizing to the victim—rather than sending them to jail. He argues that the rate of recidivism, or the likelihood that the criminal will commit another offense, is only 15% when he does so, while the average rate of recidivism in the country as a whole is above 35%. Judge Brown thus argues that the criminal justice system is most effective when criminals make amends for their crime, rather than serving time.

Which of the following, if true, most strongly supports Judge Brown’s claim?
A. The majority of the defendants that the judge sees are already repeat offenders who are statistically more likely to continue their offenses.
B. The offenders who went on to commit a crime after making amends were less likely to commit a violent crime than were those who were repeat offenders who served time.
C. Many of the sentenced criminals who made amends were those who expressed to Judge Brown a willingness to do so.
D. Victims of the crimes were happier when the judged sentenced criminals to make amends, rather than when he sentenced them to serve time.
E. A judge in a neighboring district found that, in his jurisdiction, criminals sentenced to make amends committed repeat offenses in 22% of cases.

It says the right answer choice is A

How does A support the Judge's claim? I think this answer choice actually weakens the claim because it talks about repeat offenders who may or may not have already made amends in the past which would prove the Brown's plan for amends to be ineffective? The argument doesn't talk about repeat offenders and whether these amends are just as effective for those types of offenders. I don't really understand the explanation video either.

Dear Silviax,
I'm happy to respond.

Think about this way. Judge Brown has convicts apologize to crime victims, and he argues that this is what causes the low rate of recidivism. Think of what a skeptic would say.
"Maybe the criminals that Judge Brown sees are not hardened criminals. They are folks who easily feel sorry for the crimes they committed, and thus are more likely to feel willing to apologize. Such criminals are also, by their very nature, less likely to repeat their crimes, because they already feel sorry for what they have done. Thus, the low recidivism rate would be due to the characters of the individual convicts involved, and participation in Judge Brown's program of apologizing would just be an unrelated detail."
If that view were really true, it would be devastating to Judge Brown's argument. How do we know that the folks who went through Judge Brown's program have lowers recidivism rate because of that program and not because of some other factor about who they are? This is the biggest objection to the prompt arguments at it stands.

Choice (A) addresses this in a powerful way. If the folks Judge Brown sees are repeat offenders, folks that typically have a much higher recidivism rate, and after participating in Judge Brown's programs, even these hardened embittered repeat offenders are much less likely to continue their life of crime. then that's powerful. The programs takes the population most like to repeat their offense, and makes even these people less like to repeat. Wow! If something works on the hardest imaginable case, then it really works! This is why it's such a powerful strengthener for the argument.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

mikemcgarry : COmpletely agree with your reasoning of A. But there is another reason of objection.
so lets say only 15% Recidivism criminals now commit crime later on. what if the crime that they commit is more devastating / heinous in nature than what 35% criminal who went for sentence does.

while A takes care of quanity, B addresses quality of crime. If B is true, we can't say this method is effective, can we?

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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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28 Aug 2017, 16:45
mikemcgarry : Completely agree with your reasoning of A. But there is another reason of objection.
so lets say only 15% Recidivism criminals now commit crime later on. what if the crime that they commit is more devastating / heinous in nature than what 35% criminal who went for sentence does.

while A takes care of quanity, B addresses quality of crime. If B is true, we can't say this method is effective, can we?

I'm happy to respond.

My friend, with all due respect, that objection is quite unrealistic. Human behaviors are very hard to change, and in any human group, there's natural variation.

It would be unrealistic that all 15% of those who atone go out and commit atrocious crimes, whereas all 35% of the non-atoning ones go out and commit non-violent & less serious crimes. From the nature of human populations, we would expect the proportions in the two group to be roughly equal, percent who commit violent crimes. Choice (B) suggests some difference--we don't know how significant a change this would be--does "less likely" mean 20% vs. 90% or 32% vs. 37%? We don't know. Experience with the nature of human populations suggests that, even if (B) were true, it wouldn't be a gigantic difference.

And if (B) is not true, then the rates of violent crimes are equal or, ironically, the rate for the atoners would be slightly higher--still, the overall percentage of people committing violence crimes from the group of atoners would be smaller than it would be from the group of non-atoners. You see, we would have to imagine a fairy-tale mathematical scenario in which the rate of violent crimes in the atoning group is more than double what it is in the non-atoning group, and that's just not how real human populations work.

My friend, the GMAT CR is deeply faithful to the way real populations and real business behave in the real world. You don't need to be an expert on everything, but you need to have good instincts for the push & pull of the real world. See:
GMAT Critical Reasoning and Outside Knowledge
The GMAT doesn't ask the CR as an abstract logic puzzle. The GMAT asks the CR because real managers have to face and evaluate dozens of real-world arguments each day. The person who can think of abstract logical exceptions but who lacks the real-world grounding in how things work will struggle on both the GMAT CR and in a real-world managerial job.

My friend, does all this make sense?
Mike
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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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06 Sep 2017, 08:32
mikemcgarry wrote:
Silviax wrote:
Yes, I see what you are saying. I still think it's doubtful whether repeat offenders would be "cured" from pursuing criminal activities by simply apologizing to their victims, but I guess that's not the point here and only my own opinion.

That's why I am having a hard time with critical reasoning questions. I always want to reason and evaluate based on my opinion and not based on what the argument is implying.

Dear Silviax,
I'm happy to respond.

Yes, if we were drawing conclusions on our own, indeed it would not be the easiest conclusion to accept that repeat offenders would be reformed simply by the act of apologizing to victims. That's absolutely true.

In this argument, we know from the prompt that the recidivism rate for the convicts that Judge Brown has apologize has dropped to 15%, down from the standard 35%. That's evidence, so we know that. Now, if (A) is true, then the argument would be telling us, as fact that we should accept, that these hard-to-reform repeat offenders are the ones Judge Brown is seeing, and he is able to reform even these people. Again, this would hard to posit on our own, but we don't have to: the question is making all this clear for us.

It's good to have a general sense of what is realistic and what is not, but on GMAT CR, you really have to be rigorous about exactly what is said and what isn't. You have to treat it the way you might treat math: one little difference can change everything, so you have to pay attention to each last detail.

Does all this make sense?
Mike

Hi mikemcgarry,

Can we actually take the likelihood as a fact in reaching to the conclusion? Like mentioned in the argument, "recidivism rate for the convicts that Judge Brown has apologize has dropped to 15%, down from the standard 35%." is not a fact but an approximation. Can you pls help?

Regards

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Re: Judge Brown has shown a marked preference over the past decade [#permalink]

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06 Sep 2017, 10:15
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ManishKM1 wrote:
Hi mikemcgarry,

Can we actually take the likelihood as a fact in reaching to the conclusion? Like mentioned in the argument, "recidivism rate for the convicts that Judge Brown has apologize has dropped to 15%, down from the standard 35%." is not a fact but an approximation. Can you pls help?

Regards

Dear ManishKM1,

I'm happy to respond.

My friend, the human sciences are messy, especially when compared to the natural sciences. There's a high level of precision in the natural sciences--every time we mix the same two chemicals, the same thing happens, like clockwork. Computers and coding also have that level of precision: the same line of code will do the same thing each time. Real human beings are messier than computers or lab chemicals. Real human beings are idiosyncratic, unpredictable, and unreliable. Real human beings often behave according to trends, but regularly act completely counter to expectation.

My friend, I don't know what you studied in your undergraduate degree, but if it was anything in science or engineering or computers, it may be that you need to familiarize yourself with the "feel" of social sciences--psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.

The prompt says:
He [Judge Brown] argues that the rate of recidivism, or the likelihood that the criminal will commit another offense, is only 15% when he does so, while the average rate of recidivism in the country as a whole is above 35%.

To a math or computer person, those look like probabilities. To someone who has studied the social sciences, a drop from 35% to 15% is mind-bogglingly good! If a social scientist got such a large different in her own results, she would dance for joy! This is an enormous difference. If that's not apparent to you, you have to get yourself more familiar with some of the social sciences.

Also, purely on mathematical grounds, keep in mind what probability really means. Let's talk about a fair coin. When we say that the probability of H is 1/2, we are making a precise mathematical statement, not an approximation. We are saying that any individual flip of the coin is random, unpredictable, and even a small number of flips in a row would be relatively unpredictable, but if we were to flip that coin a large number of times--100, 1000, 10000, etc.--then we necessarily would see a pattern of very close to 50% H and 50% T. I don't know whether you understand the calculus idea of a limit, but the limit as the number of trials goes to infinity is equal to the probability. That large-scale statement is not an approximation at all! Mathematically, probability is always a statement of complete uncertainty in the individual instance and of 100% certainty in the long-run overall pattern. Flip a coin once, and I have no idea how it will turn out. Flip a coin 10,000 times, and I can make a precise prediction about the narrow range of outcomes.

Of course, real human beings are not as neat and precise as coins, but similar principles apply. The 35% and 15% are statements about the overall pattern, about the long-term trend in the data. These numbers doesn't allow us to know much of anything about how one individual in isolation might behave, but they tell us deeply meaningful information about the large-scale population pattern. Once again, the population-wide statement is NOT an approximation: instead, it is a meaningful quantitative statement about an overall proportion of a relevant population.

I am going to recommend this blog to you:
GMAT Critical Reasoning and Outside Knowledge

Does all this make sense?
Mike
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