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Abstract: Development of Non-Arbitrary Risk Categories for Improving Risk Communication in Sexual Offenders.

Risk assessments in corrections and forensic mental health are typically summarized in one of three words: low, moderate, or high. Although these risk labels have strong influence on decision-makers, they are interpreted differently across settings, even among trained professionals. This presentation provides a framework for standardizing risk communication by matching a) the information contained in risk tools to b) a broadly applicable classification of “riskiness” that is independent of any particular offender risk scale. When applied to the STATIC risk scales, the new, standardized increase concordance of risk classification (from 51% to 72%). Most importantly, standardized risk categories allow evaluators to make the same inferences for offenders with the same risk category label regardless of the instrument used.


R. Karl Hanson, Ph.D., C.Psych., is one of the leading researchers in the field of sexual offender risk assessment and treatment. He has published more than 150 articles, including several highly influential reviews, and has contributed to the development of the most widely used risk assessment tools for sexual offenders (Static-99R; Static-2002R; STABLE-2007). Based in Ottawa, Canada, he is a research manager with Public Safety Canada, and adjunct faculty in the psychology departments of Carleton University and Ryerson University.