Brief on Static 99 Sex Offender Risk Assessment
Amici curiae Merits
Oregon Justice Resource Center and Scholars
Petition for Judicial Review from the Final Order of the Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision
Credits: Karl Clinton Culbertson
Ken Nolley – Willamette University Emeritus Professor of English and Film Studies,
Special Thanks goes to the following experts and their contributions to a better world:
- Yolanda Fernandez, Ph.D., is a registered clinical psychologist,
- Karl Hanson, Ph.D., C.Psych., is one of the leading researchers in the field of risk assessment and treatment,
- Andrew J. R. Harris, Ph.D., C. Psych., did his doctoral research on the intersection of Hare’s (1991) conception of criminal psychopathy,
- Maaike Helmus, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in Criminology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Her research has focused on offender risk assessment, particularly regarding risk scale development and validation,
- David Thornton, Ph.D., is a psychologist in private practice based in Wisconsin and holds a part-time position as a professor in the department of clinical psychology at the University of Bergen in Norway,
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SARASOTA – Karl Culbertson, Professor Ken Nolley through Oregon Voices show their metal in the wealth of fact, law and reason, provided in this AMICI CURIAE, deep dive with a wealth of resources compiled by authors at expert levels filed IN THE SUPREME COURT STATE OF OREGON, March, 2020. The validity of this Amici Curiae is corroborated by other research not limited to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
AVNetnews makes this Amici Curiae available for download on this website at: http://www.avnetnews.com/index.php/2020/03/14/brief-on-static-99-sex-offender-risk-assessment-amici-curiae-merits/
A Noteworthy Quote to Summarize as Follows,
The Board is correct in recognizing the need to adjust any risk assessment to take account of a registrant’s time at liberty without having re-offended. The Coding Manual itself makes that clear:
“Our research has found that, in general, for every five years the offender is in the community without a new sex offence, their risk for recidivism roughly halves. * * * Consequently, we recommend that for offenders with two years or more sex offence free in the community since release from the index offence, the time they have been sex offence free in the community should be considered in the overall evaluation of risk.”
- The Static-99R score provides a scientifically validated assessment of re-offense risk as of the time of release from custody, but re-offense risk is not static over time.
Changes in Risk Level (“Hazard”), Over Time at Liberty Without Re-Offending, For Each of Five Risk Levels at Release, as Assessed by Static-99R.
Figure Two [right] also allows one to compare the risk of a new sex offense by registrants with the risk of a sex offense by others with no history of sexual offending released after a nonsexual conviction. That second group’s rate is shown by the horizontal black line labeled “desistance.”
Published studies posted on http://www.static99.org set out evidence based methods for assessing an adult male registrant’s current risklevel, given his Static-99R score at release and his years at liberty in the community without having re-offended.
A study published in 2019 used the same dataset of 7,225 registrants employed in the 2018 study (from which Figure Two is taken) to estimate the residual re-offense risk for each year the registrant has lived in the community without having re-offended. Thornton, Hanson, Kelley, and Mundt, Sexual Abuse:
Res & Treatment; APP 39-69. That study is also significant in this case because it is one of the research studies posted on the Static-99R website, The Static-99R research team also provides an online calculator, in the form of an Excel spreadsheet, which can be used to calculate the probability of a registrant’s sexual re-offense.18 It automates the calculation of re-offense probability for any combination of Static-99R score at release and years sexualoffense free in the community. It also computes adjustments in the probability that result from convictions for nonsexual crimes. In addition, the calculator permits one to take account of periods of time after release that should not count toward offense-free years at liberty because the registrant’s freedom of movement was so seriously constrained that he was prevented from re-offending.
Rules requiring the registration of persons who have been convicted of a sexual offense are grounded on the premise that they are more likely than others to offend sexually in the future. There is no other rational reason to focus prevention efforts, such as notification, on them. The Oregon registry rules recognize that registrants vary in such re-offense likelihood and that scientifically validated tools are available by which to measure registrants’ relative re-offense risk. Oregon law requires their use in classifying offenders by risk level, and the Board’s regulations adopt the most widely used such tool, the Static-99R, to implement the required risk assessment for the population of adult males for whom it has been validated.
The practice of the Board is inconsistent, however, with the scientific research underpinning the Static-99R and the instructions for its use provided by the research team that developed it. It is inconsistent because of its failure to recognize the need to adjust the risk assessment of a registrant to reflect the time spent in the community after his release from custody without re-offending.
Predictive accuracy requires such adjustments. In the case of Mr. Culbertson, who was assessed for the first time 18 years after his release from custody, the proper assessment places him in the lowest risk classification available under Oregon law. Mr. Culbertson’s case exemplifies a more general point, however, that all assessments of the re-offense risk a registrant presents at the time of his release from custody should be periodically adjusted over time as a matter of standard practice because the predictive value of that initial assessment degrades for each year that follows. For those who re-offend, a new assessment is appropriate when the registrant is released from custody after his new offense. But, to align Oregon practice with relevant research findings, it is equally important to make periodic reductions in the risk levels assigned to those who remain offense-free. The re-offense risk presented by every registrant, no matter his initial assessed risk, declines with each year he remains at liberty in the community offense-free.
Even those initially assessed as high risk will, if they remain offense-free long enough, transition to low risk and, eventually, to desistance. At that point there ceases to be any basis in re-offense risk to require their continuing registration at all. Focusing finite prevention resources on monitoring individuals who pose no special risk of sexual offending seems improvident at best, and, given the burdens associated with registration, may well be constitutionally questionable as well.
/s/ Franz H. Bruggemeier
Franz H. Bruggemeier, OSB #163533
Attorney for Amici Oregon Justice Resource Center and Risk Assessment.
Sex Offender Risk Assessment
Sex Offender Risk Assessment