Assessment of Risk to Sexually Reoffend: What Do We Really Know?

  • Robin J. Wilson
  • Jeffrey C. Sandler
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Risk, Crime and Society book series (PSRCS)


As recently as 30 years ago, assessments of sexual offender reoffense potential were offered by “experts” relying on clinical judgments fraught with subjectivity. In the wake of damning research showing that such ratings were often no better than chance in predicting outcome, mechanical processes were developed to increase objectivity, known as actuarial risk assessment instruments or ARAIs (e.g., Static-99, Risk Matrix-2000). In contemporary practice, ARAIs are used to anchor risk judgments; however, they continue to generate controversy, especially in the highly litigious realm of sexual offender civil commitment and other extraordinary measures of containment and restriction of offender liberties. Additionally, research is clear that use of ARAIs provides only moderate predictive accuracy and that other psychologically meaningful factors must also be considered. This chapter traces the history of sexual offender risk assessment techniques, ultimately focusing on contemporary approaches marrying ARAIs with structured approaches to appraising criminogenic need and instituting evidence-based case management practices. Successes achieved and suggestions for future research and practice are addressed.


Sexual offender risk assessment Static-99R Criminogenic need Case management Actuarial risk assessment 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robin J. Wilson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeffrey C. Sandler
    • 3
  1. 1.McMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Wilson Psychological Services LLCSarasotaUSA
  3. 3.Private PracticeAlbanyUSA

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