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Public safety, individual liberty, and suspect science: future dangerousness assessments and sex offender laws

Hamilton, Melissa (2011) Public safety, individual liberty, and suspect science: future dangerousness assessments and sex offender laws Temple Law Review, 83 (3). pp. 697-756.

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... Part V offers a review of case law involving the role of the two actuarial assessment tools in SVP status cases, including an assessment of how courts have responded to Daubert-and Frye-based challenges to the instruments. ... Hence, with the Supreme Court's approval of expert predictions of future violence in death penalty cases, and with the majority's reference to expert assessments of the risk of violence in civil commitments, it seems reasonable to extrapolate Barefoot's general conclusion to future dangerousness assessments of sex offenders. ... To develop the experience table, the developer used the sexual recidivism rates observed in seven follow-up studies of released sex offenders in the United States, Canada, and England. ... The STATIC-99 instrument includes 10 static factors : Age at assessment: Number of prior sentencing 0 = 25 years or older dates: 1 = between 18 and 25 years 0 = 3 or less 1 = 4 or more Having lived with an age-appropriate Any convictions for a non- intimate partner for at least 2 years: contact sexual offense: 0 = yes; 1 = no 0 = no; 1 = yes Any convictions for an Index non-sexual Any nonfamilial victims: violent offense: 0 = no; 1 = yes 1 = yes; 0 = no Any convictions for non-sexual violence Any stranger victims: before the Index (most recent sexual 0= no; 1 = yes offense) offense: 1 = yes; 0 = no Number of prior sex offenses: Any male victims: 0 = none 0 = no; 1 = yes 1 = 1-2 charges or 1 conviction 2 = 3-5 charges or 2-3 convictions 3 = > 6 charges or > 4 convictions For STATIC-99, total scores range from 0 to 12, arranged within seven risk categories organized into four ordinal risk groups (from 0 = low risk to 6+ = high risk). ... It is highly questionable whether there ever was - and even more questionable whether there is today - a general acceptance in the mental health field about the validity of using actuarial risk assessments in SVP legal determinations. ... Judicial Perspectives on Future Dangerousness Evidence Since the Supreme Court approved mental health testimony about future dangerousness and found civil commitment of sexual predators and registration laws to be constitutional, the introduction of actuarial risk assessments through expert testimony has become common practice in SVP determinations. ... In the case, the prosecutor had argued that even low scores from actuarial tools are sufficient to constitute the legal standard of "likely" to reoffend: Even taking the expert's tests, the RRASOR, about 11% failure rate after ten years. ... And, finally, some argue that the legislatures created sexual predator laws with the future dangerousness concept and, thus, we (mental health experts, judges, and lawyers) need to use the best available evidence to make those decision - even if the legal standards remain vague, and even though current models of actuarial risk assessment suffer large gaps in validity and reliability.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > School of Law
Authors :
Date : 2011
Copyright Disclaimer : Copyright (c) 2011 Temple University of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education. Temple Law Review.
Related URLs :
Depositing User : Melanie Hughes
Date Deposited : 20 Sep 2017 09:18
Last Modified : 20 Sep 2017 09:18

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