Ethical practice in sex offender assessment : consideration of actuarial and polygraph methods

Vess, James 2011, Ethical practice in sex offender assessment : consideration of actuarial and polygraph methods, Sexual abuse : a journal of research and treatment, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 381-396, doi: 10.1177/1079063210382045.

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Title Ethical practice in sex offender assessment : consideration of actuarial and polygraph methods
Author(s) Vess, James
Journal name Sexual abuse : a journal of research and treatment
Volume number 23
Issue number 3
Start page 381
End page 396
Total pages 16
Publisher Sage Publications, Inc.
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, Calif.
Publication date 2011-09
ISSN 1079-0632
Keyword(s) risk assessment
actuarial measures
community protection
Summary The current generation of community protection laws represents a shift in priorities that may see the individual rights of sex offenders compromised for the goal of public safety. At the center of many judicial decisions under these laws are the risk assessment reports provided by mental health practitioners. The widespread enactment of laws allowing for additional sanctions for sex offenders, and a burgeoning research literature regarding the methods used to assess risk have served to heighten rather than resolve the ethical concerns associated with professional practice in this area. This article examines ethical issues inherent in the use of two assessment methods commonly used with sex offenders in the correctional context, focusing on actuarial measures and polygraph tests. Properly conducted and adequately reported actuarial findings are considered to provide useful information of sufficient accuracy to inform rather than mislead judicial decision makers, although careful consideration must be given to the limitations of current measures in each individual case. Despite its increasing use, polygraph testing is considered controversial, with little consensus regarding its accuracy or appropriate applications. On the basis of the current state of the professional literature regarding the polygraph, its use with sex offenders raises unresolved ethical concerns.
Language eng
DOI 10.1177/1079063210382045
Field of Research 170104 Forensic Psychology
Socio Economic Objective 940408 Rehabilitation and Correctional Services
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2010, The Author
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Psychology
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