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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