Legal Issues

Risk assessment instruments

Risk assessment instruments are based on many research studies which followed released sex offenders and identified factors associated with those who re-offended. The factors are statistically weighted. The Static-99R is the most widely used such instrument. Many research studies have proven its predictive accuracy. The sexual re-offense rate for the typical sex offender is between 4% and 12% after 5 years from release from custody, and between 6-22% after 10 years. (Hanson, et al., Absolute Recidivism Rates Predicted by Static-99R and Static-2002R Sex Offender Risk Assessment Tools Vary Across Samples: A Meta-Analysis, Criminal Justice and Behavior (2012) 39: 1148.) Evaluations conducted by mental health professionals who base their opinions on interviews and reviewing criminal histories have not proven to be nearly as accurate as using validated risk assessment instruments when predicting re-offense.

Recent research has shown that the predictive accuracy of re-offense can be increased slightly when dynamic (changeable) factors are combined with static (unchangeable) factors. These include things like substance abuse, personality disorder, deviant sexual interests, emotional identification with children, and self-regulation problems. A sex offender in a mandated treatment program will be assessed on other risk factors by a certified treatment provider using dynamic and violence risk assessment instruments designated by the SARATSO Committee. The combined risk level will be used to determine appropriate levels of supervision and treatment.

More information about risk assessment in California and the Committee can be found at the following link:

Confidentiality of Criminal Offender Record Information

Treatment providers and programs are prohibited from re-disseminating criminal offender record information (CORI). Probation officers and parole agents with sex offender case loads are required to provide certified sex offender treatment providers with all relevant records pertaining to registered sex offenders in certified treatment programs. (Pen. Code, §§ 290.07, 290.09.) This information is provided solely to enable accurate scoring of risk assessment instruments pursuant to Penal Code section 290.09. Such records are confidential criminal history information which cannot legally be re-disseminated. (Pen. Code, §§ 11075, 11076.) Click here for a full discussion of this issue.

Criminal Record Information

SARATSO letters to the Governor and Legislature re selection of risk instruments:

SARATSO received a grant of $250,000 from the Assembly Rules Committee and the Speaker of the House, John Perez, to be used for the furtherance of evidence-based risk assessment in California.

California laws about sex offender risk assessment are found in Penal Code sections 290.03-09, 1202.8, 1203, 1203e, 1203f, 1203.067, 3008, and 9003: