Current Directions in Violence Risk Assessment
Jennifer L. Skeem
University of California, Berkeley
University of Virginia School of Law
March 23, 2011
Current Directions in Psychological Science, Forthcoming
Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2011-13
A variety of instruments have been published over recent years that improve clinicians’ ability to forecast the likelihood that an individual will behave violently. Increasingly, these instruments are being applied in response to laws that require specialized risk assessments. In this article, we present a framework that goes beyond the "clinical" and "actuarial" dichotomy to describe a continuum of structured approaches to risk assessment. Despite differences among them, there is little evidence that one validated instrument predicts violence better than another. We believe that these group-based instruments are useful for assessing an individual’s risk, and that an instrument should be chosen based on an evaluation’s purpose (i.e., risk assessment vs. risk reduction). The time is ripe to shift attention from predicting violence to understanding its causes and preventing its (re)occurrence.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 16
Keywords: violence, risk assessment, risk reduction
Date posted: March 25, 2011
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