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Offender risk assessment: What is it and where is the field headed?

Dr L Maaike Helmus, School of Psychology, Victoria University of Wellington

Virtually every decision in the criminal justice system is informed by an assessment of the offender’s risk to reoffend, making risk assessment the most common task in the criminal justice system, with profound implications both for public safety and for individual liberty. This presentation will provide an overview of how offender risk assessments should be constructed, used, and communicated. Specifically, I will discuss what is being measured by offender risk scales and how they are different than traditional assessment scales in psychology, and the implications this has for assessing accuracy. I will discuss the accuracy of different approaches to risk assessment, and how this fits into broader areas of research on decision-making and the role of professional judgement. Lastly, I will conclude by highlighting some of the ongoing issues and controversies in the field of offender risk assessment.

Dr L Maaike Helmus is finishing up a term position as a lecturer at Victoria University of Wellington. She is also a consultant with the Forensic Assessment Group (Ottawa, Canada) and an adjunct research professor at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. Her research has focused on offender risk assessment, particularly regarding risk scale development and validation, and risk assessment for subgroups such as sex offenders, domestic violence offenders, and Indigenous offenders. She is part of the development team for the most commonly used sex offender risk scales worldwide (eg, Static-99R, Static-2002R, STABLE-2007, ACUTE-2007). Winner of the prestigious Governor General’s Gold Medal for her work in risk assessment, Dr Helmus has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards from organizations including the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Date Monday, 11 December 2017
Time 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Audience Public
Event Category Sciences
LocationWilliam James Seminar Room 103, William James Building, 275 Leith Walk, Otago Campus
Contact NameNorma Bartlett
Contact Phone+ 64 3 479 7644

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