Sex offender risk assessment
The effectiveness of various sex offender classification instruments is investigated. This research is important in determining the best practices driving the success of sex offender management classification systems allowing you to utilize the best tool in your jurisdiction. Sections of this report include: abstract; executive summary; introduction; research design and methods; results regarding the respective abilities of nationally recommended Adam Walsh Act (AWA) classification tiers and actuarial risk assessment instruments to identify high-risk sex offenders, the risk assessment efficacy of existing state classification schemes compared to the AWA tiers and risk assessment instruments, the distribution of risk assessment scores within and across AWA tier categories, and the role of adult offender age in risk and recidivism; and discussion regarding implications for policy and practice. "The findings indicate that the current AWA classification scheme is likely to result in a system that is less effective in protecting the public than the classification systems currently implemented in the states studied. Policy makers should strongly consider substantial revisions of the AWA classification system to better incorporate evidence-based models of sex offender risk assessment and management" (p. 1).
Objectives of this three-hour videoconference include:
- Articulating the purposes for assessment and evaluation of sex offenders and the issues and challenges inherent in each;
- Understanding the limitations of traditional risk and needs assessment tools for sex offenders;
- Identifying and defining the available approaches and instruments used to effectively assess and evaluate sex offenders;
- Distinguishing between effective and ineffective risk assessment tools;
- And identifying the complementary roles of treatment providers and supervising agents in conducting and interpreting assessments and evaluations.
Those who should participate include probation/parole line staff involved in pre-sentence investigations and supervision, first-line supervisors, managers, policymakers, community corrections administrators, parole board members, trainers, and sex offender treatment providers who work closely with community supervision agencies.
The assessment, treatment, and risk management of persons who have sexually offended is of considerable interest to a wide variety of stakeholder groups, including legislators and policymakers, court and law enforcement personnel, corrections and community supervision staff, mental health clinicians, victim advocates, and the community-at-large, among others. Many of these stakeholders have expressed concerns regarding the potential for sexual recidivism and other harms posed by offenders released to the community. As a consequence, most jurisdictions have enacted legislative frameworks to manage those risks.
The past 40 years have been witness to significant growth in our understanding of the dynamics of sexual offending, the people who engage in these behaviors and how best to assess their risk for reoffending, and what treatment and supervision interventions are most likely to result in success. In this context, success may be defined as: (1) greater community safety, and (2) safe and humane reintegration opportunities for offenders returning to the community.
This report is intended to provide a comprehensive review of best practices in the assessment, treatment, and risk management of persons who have sexually offended.
The goal of this videoconference is to enhance the ability of probation and parole agency staff (line officers, supervisors, and policymakers/administrators) to supervise sex offenders in the community more effectively. Topics addressed include:
- Overview of sex offenders and their victims;
- The victim-centered approach to sex offender supervision;
- The role of collaboration in a comprehensive approach to supervision;
- The containment approach to supervision;
- Sex offender treatment in the context of community supervision;
- The use of the polygraph as a supervision and treatment tool;
- Assessment of sex offenders;
- Presentence investigations (PSI) of sex offenders;
- Case/planning/maintaining the case file;
- Case work in various settings;
- And responding to violations.
Effective assessment, treatment, and management of incarcerated sex offenders are enhanced by this 36-hour distance learning event. The content of this training program is divided into five sections: characteristics of sex offenders and treatment programs (what works/what doesn't work); comprehensive psycho-sexual assessment; treatment issues, such as sex offender treatment vs. traditional treatment, denial/cognitive distortion and empathy, stages of change and interviewing strategies, social and emotional competence, sexual arousal control, substance abuse and sexual offending, mental health issues, integrating polygraph.
“The Sex Offender Treatment Intervention and Progress Scale (SOTIPS) is a statistically-derived dynamic measure designed to aid clinicians, correctional caseworkers, and probation and parole officers in assessing risk, treatment and supervision needs, and progress among adult males who have been convicted of one or more qualifying sexual offenses and committed at least one of these sexual offenses after their 18th birthday … SOTIPS item scores are intended to reflect an individual's relative treatment and supervision needs on each risk factor. The SOTIPS total score is intended to provide an estimation of an individual's overall level of dynamic risk and need for supervision and treatment” (p. 1). Sections of this manual include: overview and administration; item descriptions and scoring criteria; and the SOTIPS scoring sheet.
The author looks at recent empirical evidence for clinical adjustments to actuarial-based risk prediction for sexually violent predators (SVPs). Based upon “five research studies directly comparing pure-actuarial to adjusted-actuarial risk assessment for sexual recidivism … the evidence does not show that adjusting or overriding the results of an actuarial instrument increases the accuracy of risk assessment. On the contrary, there is evidence that adjustments or overrides often decrease accuracy … [Therefore] because extant research shows that clinical adjustments do not increase, and often reduce, accuracy of risk assessments, SVP evaluators should generally refrain from using clinical adjustments or overrides in our risk assessments” (p. 23-24).