Accuracy of actuarial procedures for assessment of sexual offender recidivism risk may vary across ethnicity

  • Långström N
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Little is known about whether the accuracy of tools for assessment of sexual offender recidivism risk holds across ethnic minority offenders. I investigated the predictive validity across ethnicity for the RRASOR and the Static-99 actuarial risk assessment procedures in a national cohort of all adult male sex offenders released from prison in Sweden 1993-1997. Subjects ordered out of Sweden upon release from prison were excluded and remaining subjects (N = 1303) divided into three subgroups based on citizenship. Eighty-three percent of the subjects were of Nordic ethnicity, and non-Nordic citizens were either of non-Nordic European (n = 49, hereafter called European) or African Asian descent (n = 128). The two tools were equally accurate among Nordic and European sexual offenders for the prediction of any sexual and any violent nonsexual recidivism. In contrast, neither measure could differentiate African Asian sexual or violent recidivists from nonrecidivists. Compared to European offenders, AfricanAsian offenders had more often sexually victimized a nonrelative or stranger, had higher Static-99 scores, were younger, more often single, and more often homeless. The results require replication, but suggest that the promising predictive validity seen with some risk assessment tools may not generalize across offender ethnicity or migration status. More speculatively, different risk factors or causal chains might be involved in the development or persistence of offending among minority or immigrant sexual abusers.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Criminal recidivism
  • Ethnicity
  • Risk assessment
  • Sexual offenders

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