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INTRODUCTION. In the wake of recent sexual
abuse legislation, sex offender assessments have gained new
importance in the prosecution and treatment of male offenders.
Clearly, the consequences of such assessments have always been
serious, particularly given the frequency with which sex offender
assessment results are introduced during the guilt (or sentencing)
phase of judicial hearings. Balancing the rights and well-being
of the community, victim, and offender remains a challenge to
all who practice in legal settings. However, with the introduction
of consequences based specifically upon the potential future
risk of an individual, such as community notification and civil
commitment, the stakes are higher than ever before.
Given the scope of these issues, it is no surprise that researchers,
practitioners, policy makers, and other interested parties have
all attempted to better understand and identify those at high
risk for re-offense. With the emerging evidence-based tools now
available come new concerns about their ethical use. Understanding
their construction, roper use, and application to diverse legal
frameworks continues to challenge those attempting to reduce
the harm of sexual abuse.
* The information in this chapter pertains
to adult male sex offenders and not to juvenile offenders
or female offenders.
Data indicate that juvenile sex offenders bear little resemblance
to their adult counterparts (Miranda & Corcoran, 2000). There
is is little empirical information on the assessment of female
sexual offenders, who consistently comprise 5% or fewer of sex
offenders in any given study sample (Finkelhor & Russell, 1984).