Using Multiple Actuarial Instruments to Assess Sexual Recidivism Risk

Hosted by: David Prescott
Guest Speaker: David Thornton

Recorded On: June 30, 2022

In this brief presentation, David Thornton talks about the need to use multiple static actuarial instruments in carrying out psychosexual assessments to aid sentencing, prioritize treatment approaches, or in the context of potential SVP commitment.

Common practice has been to use a single instrument to assess the static component of risk. However, there are now three, robustly validated, static actuarial instruments: the Static-99R, the Static-2002R, and the Risk Matrix 2000. Comparing them indicates that it is not uncommon for them to assign quite different levels of risk. A person might be in the Average category on one instrument, the Above Average category on a second instrument, and the Well Above Average category on a third. These differences are large enough to have important practical implications. 

This presentation explains this inconsistency and present practical strategies for producing an assessment that better reflects the risk of the person being assessed.

David Thornton PhD
Psychologist, Private Practice

Dr. Thornton is a psychologist in private practice based in Wisconsin. He is licensed to practice as a psychologist in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the U.S., and also in the U.K. He was a research director for Wisconsin’s program for sexually violent persons for three years and previously was the treatment director for that program for over a decade. He has published on evidence-based standards for effective correctional programs and on the importance of therapist style in the provision of treatment designed to reduce sexual recidivism risk, contributing to the development of such scales as the Static-99, Static-2002, Static-99R, Static-2002R, and Risk Matrix 2000. He has been involved in the development of psychological risk assessment, creating the Structured Risk Assessment (SRA) framework, and in ways of understanding and measuring protective factors, being involved in the creation of the SAPROF-SO. David Thornton has published over 90 peer-reviewed journal articles. 

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