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Sex Offender Risk Assessment
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1: What is sex offender risk assessment?
A: Sex offender risk assessment is a way of determining the statistical probability that an offender will commit another sexual offense.
Q2: Who assesses the sex offender?
A: Probation, parole and the Department of State Hospitals use a Risk Assessment Instrument, the Static-99R, to assess sex offenders in California.
Q3: How does risk assessment predict a sex offender’s risk of re-offending?
A: The assessment is based on research studies identifying things about sex offenders that when present predict risk of re-offense, such as age of the offender, prior arrests and convictions for sex offenses and violent offenses, and type of victim.
Q4: Does the risk score tell us an individual sex offender’s own risk of re-offending?
A: The risk scores are based on re-offense rates of very large groups of sex offenders. If the offender being scored is similar to the large group of sex offenders on which the re-offense rates were derived, then we would expect the individual sex offender to have a similar rate of sexual re-offense for any given score.
Q5: Does the risk level of the offender stay the same?
A: As offenders successfully live in the community without incurring new offenses, their recidivism risk declines. In general, the expected sexual offense recidivism rate is reduced if the offender has five to ten years of offense-free behavior in the community. The longer it has been since the offender’s sex offense conviction, the lower the expected recidivism rate, if he has not committed another sex offense or a new serious or violent offense. Offenders who commit a new sexual or other offense that resulted in a sentence of more than one to two months jail time, however, may not be at lower risk of sexual re offense as time goes by, and may even be higher risk. (Static-99R Coding Rules, Appendix 1 at p. 59, online at www.static99.org
Q6: How valid is risk assessment with the Static-99R?
A: Both static risk assessment instruments used in California, the Static-99R and the JSORRAT-II, correctly identify sex offenders who are most likely to re-offend 70-75 percent of the time.
Q7: How can we get more accurate prediction than just being right 70 to 75 percent of the time?
A: Since there are no static risk instruments that include all the risk factors for sexual re-offense, the examination of additional risk factors, such as dynamic (changeable) risk factors will improve risk predictions.
Q8: What type of sex offender risk assessments are conducted in California?
A: Chelsea’s Law requires that sex offenders be assessed for dynamic risk and risk of future violence starting in 2012. Combining the scores on these risk instruments with the static score will improve the accuracy of risk predictions.
Q9: How can risk assessment reduce sexual reoffending?
A: Research-based risk assessment helps probation and parole decide which offenders need more intensive supervision, including active monitoring with GPS, and helps inform sex offender management decisions by supervising officers and treatment management professionals. *SARATSO-State-Authorized Risk Assessment Tool for Sex Offenders (Pen. Code, § 290.03-09.)
Q10: Who administers the sex offender risk assessments that are required for all registered sex offenders who are on probation or parole for the sex offense?
A: Probation administers the Static-99R pre-sentencing and while the offender is on probation; Parole administers the Static-99R prior to release on parole. The treatment provider administers the SRA-FV (dynamic tool) and the LSCMI (violence tool) as part of the treatment program.
Q11: Do certified sex offender treatment providers have to be trained on the SARATSO Risk Assessment Instruments?
A: Each certified sex offender treatment program must have at least one certified provider who has been trained by a SARATSO-approved trainer to score the dynamic (SRA-FV) and violence (LSCMI) risk assessment instruments. Thus, when a certified program is run by a sole practitioner, that certified provider must have the required SARATSO-approved training. A program with multiple certified providers can elect to have only one person certified to do the scoring on these instruments.
Q12: Who is eligible to be assessed with the Static-99R or JSORRAT-II?
A: The Coding Rules (scoring guidelines) for the risk instruments define which sex offenders are eligible to be scored. Not all sex offenders are eligible to be scored on these tools. Generally, the Static-99R is used to score offenders age 18 and over, but certain offenses do not qualify for scoring, and offenders who have been offense-free in the community for over 10 years may not qualify for scoring. The JSORRAT-II is used to assess juvenile sex offenders if they are under 18 at the time of the risk assessment.
Q13: Why do some offenders have a Static-99 score and others have a Static-99R score?
A: The Static-99 was revised in 2009 and became the Static-99R, so some offenders were scored on the earlier version of the instrument.
Q14: What type of information on risk assessment is posted on a sex offender registrant’s profile on the Web site ?
A: The risk assessment information that is posted on a sex offender registrant’s profile are: tool name; score; score date; and risk level.