New Study Compares Sexual Predator Assessment Tools

The three most commonly used tools to assess the recidivism of a sexually violent predator (SVP) are the Static-99, the Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool, Revised (MnSOST-R), and the Psychopathy Checklist, Revised (PCL-R). Prison overcrowding and regulations that allow for hospitalization as an alternative to prison have resulted in the release of numerous SVPs. These individuals are granted release based in part on their risk for reoffending. These tools mentioned earlier are used in making this determination. Therefore, it is essential that they be fully evaluated to ensure that they are accurately assessing the potential recidivism rates of SVPs. However, few studies have compared these three tools in a clinical sample until now.

Cailey S. Miller of the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida believes that the risk to the community at large could be significantly reduced if SVPs were being effectively screened using the most valid and accurate tool possible. To determine which of these three tools can provide the most consistent results, Miller evaluated 315 SVPs using all three measures. She found that among all three tools, the Static-99 provided the most consistent results among raters, followed closely by the MnSOST-R.

Miller noted that the PCL-R was the least consistent in the results it provided; however, it had its strengths. Particularly, the PCL-R was very reliable at assessing antisocial behavior and lifestyle traits among the SVPs. However, Miller also found that all three instruments yielded field validity results that were far below those outlined in their respective manuals. Because SPVs pose significant traumatic, sexual, and psychological threats to communities, Miller believes that further exploration of these measures is necessary before they are universally used to grant release to offenders. Miller added that until then, “Evaluators can best inform this important legal decision-making process by familiarizing themselves with the strengths and limitations of those measures on which they rely and effectively communicating this information to the courts.”

Miller, C. S., Kimonis, E. R., Otto, R. K., Kline, S. M., Wasserman, A. L. (2012). Reliability of risk assessment measures used in sexually violent predator proceedings. Psychological Assessment. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1037/a0028411

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  • Tami B

    Tami B

    June 27th, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    Seriously, we don’t need all of these assessment tools.
    You can practically look at some of these guys and know that the moment they get the chance they will start preying on kids again.
    It is their life story. They seek every opportunity that they can to put themselves around kids that they feel like they can easily take advantage of and they do it.
    Keep your eyes wide open, and I think that may times that is all the assessment tools that we need.

  • michelle


    June 27th, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    Regardless of any testing, the first thing that needs to be done is to remove all the nonviolent, romeo and juliets, from the registry. Allow parole, therapists, and law focus on the SVPs and determine what needs to be done. Maybe if the people in these fields could focus on those, then we could get somewhere.

  • michelle


    June 27th, 2012 at 4:23 PM

    Ok I am not sure that answer is sufficient either, that is like saying u can look at someone and tell they r a murderer. We do need to teach our children to be aware and avoid situations. But the above information is not really accurate. A true molestors is smart and plans and waits, does not make themselves obvious. Not to put u down Tami but u should look into some facts and history of lawsin this situation before u comment

  • Tami B

    Tami B

    June 28th, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    All I am saying is that sometimes you don’t need all these fancy tools (and apparently tools that are no guarantee either) if you just keep your eyes open for suspicious characters and teach your kids to be smart about the people that they talk to and let into their lives. That’s all. I honestly don’t think that pinpointing pedophiles is rocket science. There are just certain people who put off that vibe and frankly those are people that I am going to avoid and make my kids steer clear of as well.

  • Lorraine


    June 28th, 2012 at 3:46 PM

    I hope that the recognition that these tools are not true indicators of who will be an offender or a repeat offender shows those in the courts that more needs to be done to fight this wave of pedophilia that we have seen recently. These are sick people who somehow keep sliding through the syatem unscathed and free to prey on their unsuspecting vitims. Meanwhile the guy down the street who grows recreational pot for his own use or for medicinal purposes, well he’s gonna go to jail for years when he is hurting no one.

  • josiah


    June 29th, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    So let’s pursue the theory that we come up with the very best tool for assessment that is available.
    What are we going to do them?
    We have all of these potential offenders in the cross hairs and know that they are more than likely going to be a repeat offender, but what do you do with them?
    Lock them up in prison? Ship them off somewhere?
    The prison system is already over crowded and over worked as it is.
    I just don’t see that there is any good solution to this huge problem.
    I am not sure that there is destined to be enough money just to provide the necessray resources to keep these creeps off the streets.

  • Keisha d

    Keisha d

    July 1st, 2012 at 4:18 AM

    If the governing bodies in our area where we live kept a closer eye on these predators once they have been released and now can live like the rest of us do, then I think that a lot of thees recurring violence issues would not be so much of a problem.

    But half the time when they are released from prison we have no idea where they go, even though for all of them that is generally a stipulation for release!

    They move around without ever giving anyone a clear address, they fail to show up for meetings with their probation officers, and shun the requirements that are a part of their release.

    And the worse thing about all of that is that they are allowed to get away with it!

  • ANDY


    July 2nd, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    So what tool would have worked in the Jerry Sandusky case? Apparently people saw with their own two eyes him abusing kids, and even that didn’t stop him. he was allowed to continue doing what he was doing even though people had proof positive that he was an abuser. If that’s not the best tool, then I don’t know what is.

  • Charles


    October 15th, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    I was glad to see this article because my score on the Static 99 was 0. So I am very unlikely to re-offend. Being 60 years old will help too as my libido is less effected by the females around me.

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