Evaluation of Sexually Violent Predators

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There appears to be nearly universal acknowledgement of a need to disseminate scientific research in forensic assessments to those "in the trenches." For the academic researcher, this need is fueled by the directives for translational research issued from such powerful sources as the National Institutes of Health. For practitioners, recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings on the admissibility of expert testimony under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 make this issue critical to their credibility. The Best Practices in Forensic Mental Health Assessment series was developed to directly address this need. This volume will focus on evaluations for civil commitment of Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs). These are the offenders who are determined by the court to present sufficient risk to the community justify being detained beyond the expiration of their maximum criminal sentences. Although this book will focus on evaluating SVP cases, the considerations discussed in this book, such as determining a sex offender's risk to reoffend, apply to evaluations of sex offenders in other contexts (e.g. community notification, sentence enhancement, and probationary management) as well. SVP civil commitment cases, and the very commitment procedures associated with them, arouse strong reactions among the lay public, legal professionals, and mental health professionals. Public sentiment, on the one hand, favors longer incarceration for presumably high risk sex offenders. Civil libertarians, on the other hand, raise concerns about deprivation of the offenders' civil rights and lack of humane conditions. Providing evaluations that are consistent with best practice is both challenging and important in this context.

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Editorial Reviews

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"[Witt and Conroy] provide perhaps the most thoughtful, concise, and practical guide available for assessing relevant mental conditions, volitional control, and recidivism risk...They have made an important contribution toward consensus building in this field. Their book, a well-organized guide for best practices, successfully adds theory-driven and empirically supported structure to SVP evaluation while alerting clinicians to the limits of our expertise. It elucidates what we know now, and perhaps more important, what we do not know now. Any student, academician, clinician, or lawyer who has an interest or stake in the accurate assessment of sexual offenders will benefit from reading it."—PsycCritiques
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Product Details

Table of Contents


Chapter 1 The Legal Context 3

Chapter 2 Forensic Mental Health Concepts 19

Chapter 3 Empirical Foundations and Limits 43


Chapter 4 Preparation for the Evaluation 69

Chapter 5 Data Collection 97

Chapter 6 Interpretation 125

Chapter 7 Report Writing and Testimony 151

References 173

Tests and Specialized Tools 187

Cases and Statutes 189

Key Terms 191

Index 195

About the Authors 205

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