An Update and Expansion on the Role of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide and Historical Clinical Risk Management-20 in United States Case Law

Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 36, Issue 5 (September/October 2018), pp. 517-531

Posted: 4 Jun 2020

See all articles by Jennifer Cox

Jennifer Cox

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jaymes V. Fairfax-Columbo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David DeMatteo

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law

Michael J. Vitacco

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Megan R. Kopkin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Caroline Titcomb Parrott

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Elizabeth Bownes

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

An individual's risk for future violent behavior may be considered in various legal contexts, including civil commitment, criminal sentencing, or suitability for parole. Among the assessment tools forensic evaluators use to assess violence risk are the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG; Quinsey, Harris, Rice, & Cormier, 1998) and the Historical Clinical Risk Managment‐20 (HCR‐20)/Historical Clinical Risk Management‐20, Version 3 (HCR‐20V3) (Webster, Douglas, Eaves, & Hart, 1997 and Douglas, Hart, Webster, & Belfrage, 2013, respectively). Previous surveys and case law research suggest that these measures are widely used and perceived to be useful in aiding forensic clinicians. This study provides an update to Vitacco, Erickson, Kurus, and Apple (2012) and examines the use of the HCR‐20 and VRAG in United States case law. A LexisNexis review revealed 134 cases decided between 1 January 2010 and 21 December 2016 that included the HCR‐20, VRAG, or both. Results revealed that these measures are typically introduced by the prosecution to inform opinions regarding general violence risk. In addition, consistent with previous research, these data suggest the introduction of the HCR‐20 and VRAG is rarely challenged and, when challenged, these challenges are rarely successful. However, data suggest that courts and parole boards may focus on specific risk factors (e.g., lack of insight) at the expense of other, more objective factors. Finally, we offer suggestions for clinicians who have transitioned to the newest version of the HCR‐20.

Keywords: Violence Risk Apprasal Guide, parole, sentencing,

Suggested Citation

Cox, Jennifer and Fairfax-Columbo, Jaymes V. and DeMatteo, David and Vitacco, Michael J. and Kopkin, Megan R. and Titcomb Parrott, Caroline and Bownes, Elizabeth, An Update and Expansion on the Role of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide and Historical Clinical Risk Management-20 in United States Case Law (2018). Behavioral Sciences & the Law, Vol. 36, Issue 5 (September/October 2018), pp. 517-531, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3596151

Jennifer Cox

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Jaymes V. Fairfax-Columbo

affiliation not provided to SSRN

David DeMatteo (Contact Author)

Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law ( email )

3320 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Michael J. Vitacco

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Megan R. Kopkin

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Caroline Titcomb Parrott

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Elizabeth Bownes

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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