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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This book focuses on the assessment of sex offenders and determining their risk of recidivism, looking at both static and dynamic risk factors and helping clinicians organize a risk assessment evaluation which also includes theoretical issues of etiology.
Purpose: It is intended as a resource for forensic practitioners responsible for assessing and managing sexual offenders at risk of recidivism. It covers the risk factors associated with sexual recidivism, evaluates risk assessment approaches, and offers guidance on how to conduct forensic evaluations.
Audience: The audience includes clinical and forensic psychologists, forensic psychiatrists, undergraduate and postgraduate students in forensic and clinical psychology, and prison and probation officers. Dr. Craig is a forensic psychologist who provides clinical services to NHS Adult Mental Health Trusts and is a consultant to Prison and Probation Services. Dr. Browne is both a biologist and psychologist working at the University of Liverpool. Dr. Beech is a professor of criminology at the University of Birmingham.
Features: This book begins with a background including characteristics of sexual offenders, as well as a discussion of their acts within a behavioral framework. Next, the authors discuss static and dynamic risk factors. They spend considerable time talking about a risk assessment evaluation. The book ends with public policy and practice issues, including how to improve risk assessment estimates through nomothetic and idiographic data. The authors do a good job integrating theory, research, and practice. The premise of this book can be summarized in two sentences from the preface: "Resources and services that are required to monitor, manage, and supervise the activities of convicted sex offenders in the community can then be targeted to those most dangerous who are highly likely to commit a violent and/or sexual offence, if left to their own devices. Thus, the maximal utilisation of resources by risk management ensures the safety of children and vulnerable adults." There are instructive figures and tables, as well as 30 pages of references. In chapter 5, "Actuarial and Clinically Guided Measures," the authors discuss seven actuarial risk assessment measures and four clinical judgment scales. This is critical information for practitioners who must choose which instruments to use within a limited time frame. The material on treatment and sexual recidivism is interesting, especially regarding what works. However, there are only 16 pages devoted to treatment, which is the shortcoming of this book.
Assessment: This book is good for learning how to assess risk with sex offenders, a population with a high recividism rate. It is well written and covers the topic thoroughly. The authors use both a nomothetic and idiographic approach to organize an extensive risk assessment evaluation. In addition, their strengths-based approach is an interesting concept in helping develop effective treatment plans. All in all, this book should be in the libraries of forensic psychologists involved in sex offender work.