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Developments in Risk Assessment: Violence Risk and Sexual Violence Risk

NCJ Number
Kirk Heilbrun, Ph.D.
Date Published
November 2010
97 pages
This is an outline for a course that addresses developments in the uses of risk assessment for violence in general and sexual violence in particular, and the features of and parameters for various risk assessment instruments are reviewed.
The introduction specifies the circumstances under which a risk assessment is an important tool for guiding decisionmaking in various circumstances in the course of case management for those charged with and/or convicted of an offense that involves violence, including sexual violence. Learning objectives for the course are also stated, which constitute a summary of the course content. The course addresses conceptual advances in risk assessment, including the interdependence of risk assessment, prediction, and case management. The actuarial and structured professional judgment involved in approaches to risk assessment is addressed, accompanied by relevant research. Relevant legal and ethical parameters for risk assessment are also discussed, along with the clinical-forensic procedures and relevant safety considerations applicable to risk assessment. The course also covers the essential steps of risk assessment with various populations, as well as the available risk-assessment models. This information facilitates the selection of the most appropriate risk assessment in a given case and circumstance. In addition, the course identifies the scientifically supported, scientifically unsupported, and controversial or largely untested uses of risk assessment. Finally, the course describes approaches to risk communication in report writing and testimony, which includes recent empirical research on risk communication. 13 tables, references, and appended analysis of aggressive behavior