Monday, August 23, 2010

Handbook of Violence Risk Assessment

Best practices for violence risk assessment change from second to second. So, publishing a sourcebook on the topic is a bit like trying to capture and hold a hummingbird. Still, the authorship and range of content may make the Handbook of Violence Risk Assessment an authoritative resource for at least a minute or two -- and then they can publish a second edition.

The volume's first editor, Randy Otto, is a respected forensic psychology scholar. An award-winning professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida, he is past president of both the American Psychology-Law Society and the American Board of Forensic Psychology. He also chairs the Committee to Revise the Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology (which, by the way, has yet a new draft coming out next month), and he is a co-author of the third edition of the widely consulted text, Psychological Evaluations for the Courts. Co-editor Kevin Douglas is a former colleague of Otto's at the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy.

The book begins with an overview chapter by respected forensic scholar Kirk Heilbrun. Remaining chapters -- most written by leading practitioners and instrument developers -- review specific instruments for assessing both adult and juvenile risk for violence, including sexual violence. Tools reviewed include:

  • EARL-20B and EARL-21G
  • SAVRY
  • Youth Level of Service/Case Management Inventory
  • VRAG, SORAG
  • Violence Risk Scale
  • HCR-20
  • Classification of Violence Risk
  • Level of Service Inventory
  • Spousal Assault Risk Assessment Guide
  • Static-99
  • SVR-20 / RSVP
I am impressed with what I have read so far. John Monahan wrote the chapter on the Classification of Violence Risk. David DeMatteo, John Edens, and Allison Hart have a nice chapter on the utility -- and limitations -- of using psychopathy measures to address violence risk. And Stephen Hart and Douglas Boer provide an up-to-the-minute summary of reliability and validity studies on the SVR-20 and a parallel instrument sex offender risk instrument, the Risk for Sexual Violence Protocol (RSVP), which I predict may overtake the Static-99 at some point, given the latter's instability and atheoretical basis.

My Amazon review is HERE.

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