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Multi-State Recidivism Study Using Static-99R and Static-2002 Risk Scores and Tier Guidelines From the Adam Walsh Act

NCJ Number
Kristen M. Zgoba; Michael Miner; Raymond Knight; Elizabeth Letourneau; Jill Levenson; David Thornton
Date Published
October 2012
37 pages
This study examined components of the Nation's sex offender tracking and monitoring systems, with a focus on risk assessment and sexual recidivism measured by rearrest.
The study had four components. First, it compared the nationally recommended Adam Walsh Act (AWA) classification tiers with actuarial risk assessment instruments (Static-SSR and Static-2002) in their respective abilities to identify high-risk individuals and recidivists. Second, the study evaluated the predictive accuracy of existing State risk-assessment classification schemes. Third, it analyzed the distribution of risk assessment scores within and across tier categories as defined by the AWA. Fourth, the study addressed the role of offender age in recidivism risk across the adult lifespan. The study's findings indicate that the current AWA classification scheme is likely to produce a system that is less effective in protecting the public than the classification systems currently implemented in the States studied. The AWA tier was unrelated to sexual recidivism, except in Florida, where it was inversely associated with recidivism. Actuarial measures and existing State tiering system both showed better predictive validity than AWA tiers. Offender age was found to have a significant protective effect for sexual reoffending, with older offenders showing a decreased risk for sexual recidivism. On average, the recidivism rate was approximately 5 percent at 5 years and 10 percent at 10 years. Policymakers should consider substantial revisions of the AWA classification system in order to better incorporate evidence-based models of sex offender risk assessment and management. The study collected data from 1,789 adult sex offenders in 4 States (Minnesota, New Jersey, Florida, and South Carolina). Variables, including offender demographics and criminal history information, were coded from State criminal justice records. 22 tables and 100 references