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Risk Assessment of Sexual Offenders for Extended Supervision Orders in New Zealand: Basic Principles and Current Practice

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Sexual Abuse Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: March-April 2009 Pages: 174-189
James Vess
Date Published
April 2009
16 pages
This article explores relevant information on sexual reoffending of children and the impact of the Parole (Extended Supervision) Amendment Act 2004 with high risk sexual offenders in New Zealand.
Risk assessment findings by mental health professionals can play an important role in judicial decision making for orders of extended supervision. Recent proceedings in such cases suggest that there are issues in the assessment and communication of risk that require clarification. Findings indicate that there are well-validated actuarial measures available the can help distinguish between higher and lower risk offenders. Research findings are beginning to emerge that more clearly address the risk presented by specific subgroups of offenders, such as child molesters. Findings based on static actuarial measures, which by definition cannot detect changes in risk status over time, are now being augmented by standardized approaches to assessing dynamic or changeable risk factors. These dynamic risk measures are themselves currently undergoing a process of empirical validation through research students. In conducting assessments for the court, failure to follow standardized procedures and recognized scoring criteria for recognized risk measures are potentially worse than not using such measures at all. In reporting of the findings of a risk assessment, it has been recommended by experts in the field that comparative categorical labels such as high, moderate, or low risk be qualified by probability statements that give corresponding reoffense rates for groups of similar offenders. Finally, risk is contingent on a variety of factors that are difficult or impossible to predict with certainty; therefore, risk assessment should state the recognizable contingencies that will influence the degree of risk present. References


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