Reliability of Sex Offender Risk Assessment Tools

January 10, 2013
Risk assessment measures are important tools used in the evaluation of sexually violent predators (SVP's). Although they are only one source of data used to inform expert opinions that are offered in SVP committment proceedings (as well as other legal arenas), they are instruments used when the stakes are high and need to be as reliable and valid as possible. Miller, Kimonis, Otto, Kline, and Asserman (2012) examined the interrater reliability of three popular risk assessment tools: the Static-99, the PCL-R, and the MnSOST-R. Without interrater reliability, the courts cannot have confidence that an offender's reported risk score is a true representation of the risk he poses for sexual reoffense. These authors found highest rater agreement for the Static-99, followed by the MnSOST-R and the PCL-R. However, the Static-99 scoring system appears less challenging than the scoring systemt for the MnSOST-R or the PCL-R. These authors noted that lack of proper training with the above instruments may be part of the problem.

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