Sachsenmaier, S. J., & Peters, J. M. (2002). Sexual Offender Risk Assessment Methods and Admissibility as Expert Witness Evidence. In J. M. Peters (Ed.), Assessment and Management of Sex Offenders: What Prosecutors Need to Know. Washington, DC: United States Department of Justice, Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.
Sex offender risk assessments may be relied upon by prosecutors, defenders, judges, probation officers, and others as an aid to determining whether a particular person is a sexual predator for purposes of sex offender registration and/or civil commitment, and whether they are likely to recidivate. This chapter explains the components of eleven of the most popular risk assessment methods and analyzes their validity in general scientific terms and under the criteria set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). The first part of this chapter situates the appropriate context of the lawyer who seeks a sex offender risk assessment. The middle section reviews several relevant issues relating to social science research with which the attorney should be familiar before attempting to understand the instruments described in the last section of the chapter. The final part describes the scientific foundation, or lack of it, of eleven sex offender risk assessment methods, and summarizes the applicable case law. These methods are reviewed: (1) the Abel Screen and Abel Assessment for sexual interests, (2) the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide, (3) the Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide, (4) the penile plethysmograph, (5) the Federal Guidelines of the Sex Offender Registration Act, (6) the Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised, (7) the Rapid Risk Assessment for Sex Offender Recidivism, (8) the Structured Risk Assessment, (9) the Static-99, which is Step One of the Structured Risk Assessment, (10) the Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool-Revised, and (11) the Sex Offender Needs Assessment Rating.Author's email address