SEXUAL OFFENDING: Linking Assessment, Intervention, and Decision Making

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The recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Kansas v. Hendricks (1997) will focus increased attention on the legal, social science, and clinical issues related to sexual offenders. Such issues include the risk of recidivism by sexual offenders, the extent to which this risk is reduced through treatment, and the degree to which assessment and treatment of sexual offenders can be informed by social science data and is relevant for legal decision making. The authors critically review the research on sexual offender recidivism and the impact of treatment on such recidivism, and analyze the legal decision-making contexts that characterize the decisions facing courts concerning sexual offenders. The authors then describe a clinical decision-making model with the potential for linking assessment with interventions for sexual offenders, in a way that can facilitate relevance and accuracy in decision making for both clinicians and courts.

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