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Static-99: A bumpy developmental path

The Static-99 is the most widely used instrument for assessing sex offenders’ future risk to the public. Indeed, some state governments and other agencies even mandate its use. But bureaucratic faith may be misplaced. Conventional psychological tests go through a standard process of development, beginning with the generation and refinement of items and proceeding through set stages that include pilot testing and replication, leading finally to peer review and formal publication. The trajectory of the Static-99 has been more haphazard: Since its debut 15 years ago, the tool has been in a near-constant state of flux. Myriad changes in items, instructions, norms and real-world patterns of use have cast a shadow over its scientific validity. Here, we chart the unorthodox developmental course of this tremendously popular tool.   Full article

Join the discussion

  1. Timmr

    The continual morphing of these tests only proves the point that correlation does not imply causation. Until they show beyond a reasonable doubt that this risk factor actually causes someone to commit that sex crime, they should quit imprisoning people in mental institutions. Until the science is improved to the point where one can say, yes, because of this, that is likely to occur, instead of because of this, we feel that that will occur, you’re violating the precept of innocent until proven guilty.

    • http404

      I am sure what the world wants is a “minority report” style crystal ball they can look into, and based on statistical odds make a determination as to the ACTUAL risk an individual may pose. For things like determining insurance premiums it is great. But – and I don’t think it takes a behavioral scientist to recognized this – people are individuals and risk factors alone are no indication at all as to how they will act or whether someone will re-offend. Making decisions based on someone’s “score” on an actuarial worksheet is a dangerous practice, especially if decisions are made sans a professional’s review and narrative to either substantiate, downplay or dismiss any high risk scores based on other more “dynamic” factors and data.

  2. Michael

    Just another in the long list of nightmares and Machiavellian twists that make up the sex abuse INDUSTRY.

  3. mch

    It looks as if Hanson and Helmus have gotten quite wealthy from their “non-scientific” evaluation tools. I’m guessing they stand over a boiling cauldron, toss in cat hairs, bat wings, maybe frogs teeth and chicken lips to come up with a magic formula for a ballpark assessment of SO’s. I guaran-damn-tee you that this is akin to the blind man in a dark basement looking for a black cat that was never there. Modern quackology at it’s best. Just follow the money, like every other corrupt industry.

  4. ab

    Let’s not forget the static 99 is for hands on offenses only. So the idea of it measuring risk for sex offenders can at best be partly true, but even those risk assessments are lacking.

  5. Q

    Static 99 is a crock thought up by kooks. Nobody is capable of predicting the future behavior of anyone. Anyone that believes this trash science is credible in any way, shape or form is not in touch with reality.

  6. Margaret Moon

    Even as ethical professionals like Karen Franklin are warning that these “actuarial tools” are questionable science, the powers-that-be are posting the score received on these tests on Megan’s List!

    • Harry

      Most everything that pertains to SO situation is based on junk, emotions, exaggerations, and political grandstanding. However, the fakes will be exposed.

  7. someone who cares

    I read a lot about the Static 99-R, and I was hoping someone here had a little bit more information. Who needs to be assessed? Is it anybody charged with a sex crime, or like someone mentioned, only those with hands on offenses? Also, I read that those who have been crime free for 10 years are not eligible to be scored. What are the consequences for being “scored” High Risk? Does that mean automatic GPS monitoring throughout probation? Maybe someone can help me understand this more.

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