Risk Assessment and Schemes for Sexual Recidivism: A 25 Year Follow-Up of Convicted Sex Offenders Referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center, 1959-1984 (ICPSR 25928)

Published: Mar 31, 2010

Principal Investigator(s):
Raymond Knight, Brandeis University; David Thornton, Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center

https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR25928.v1

Version V1

The aim of the study was to evaluate and to improve the decision-making algorithms that have been generated to assess risk in sexual offenders. More specifically, it was the task of this research project to evaluate the extant actuarials in a sample of sexual offenders on whom long-term follow-up data were available. Researchers attempted to assess the comparative accuracy of the major risk instruments over time and over subsamples, explore their underlying factor structure, examine the accuracy of a new assessment protocol, and explore the potential for generating improved predictive instruments. The sample was drawn from an earlier study in which researchers had followed 599 offenders who had been referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC) for evaluation between 1959 and 1984. Of these, 266 (the Bridgewater Treatment [BT] sample) had been committed to MTC as "sexually dangerous" and subsequently released, and 333 (the Bridgewater Observation [BO] sample) had been determined not to be sexually dangerous and returned to finish their sentences. There were two sources of data for the study. The first source was the offender's MTC clinical and criminal archival records. The second comprised four record sources that were accessed to obtain comprehensive follow-up data. In this study, researchers coded these records both on modern empirically-derived, mechanical actuarials that have been developed since 1997 for predicting sexual recidivism, and on a new experimental measure. Two coding teams were created. In general Team A was responsible for (a) purifying, redacting, and scanning detailed copies of offenders' files, (b) classifying all BO sample using both the MTC typologies and the DSM-IV Conduct Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder categories, and (c) classifying a subset of the BT sample using the DSM-IV Conduct Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder categories. Team B was responsible for coding all actuarials and the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised on all offenders in the study, and for classifying all BT sample using the DSM-IV Conduct Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder categories.

Knight, Raymond, and Thornton, David. Risk Assessment and Schemes for Sexual Recidivism: A 25 Year Follow-Up of Convicted Sex Offenders Referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center, 1959-1984. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-03-31. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR25928.v1

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United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2003-WG-BX-1002)

none

Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

1959 -- 1984

2003

The aim of the study was to evaluate and to improve the decision-making algorithms that have been generated to assess risk in sexual offenders. More specifically, it was the task of this research project to evaluate the extant actuarials in a sample of sexual offenders on whom long-term follow-up data were available. Researchers attempted to assess the comparative accuracy of the major risk instruments over time and over subsamples, explore their underlying factor structure, examine the accuracy of a new assessment protocol, and explore the potential for generating improved predictive instruments.

The sample was drawn from an earlier study in which researchers had followed 599 offenders who had been referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC) for evaluation between 1959 and 1984. Of these, 266 (the Bridgewater Treatment [BT] sample) had been committed to MTC as "sexually dangerous" and subsequently released, and 333 (the Bridgewater Observation [BO] sample) had been determined not to be sexually dangerous and returned to finish their sentences. Of the 333 BO offenders, 200 constituted a matched sample (on age at evaluation, marital status, and number of prior crimes) and 200 were randomly sampled from the entire sample BO population evaluated. There was an overlap of 67 offenders selected by both the random and matched process.

There were two sources of data for the study. The first source was the offender's MTC clinical and criminal archival records. Researchers coded these records both on modern empirically-derived, mechanical actuarials that have been developed since 1997 for predicting sexual recidivism, on two structured clinical guidelines, and on a new experimental measure. For a complete list of the instruments used in this study, please see the Description of Variables section which follows. All codings and judgments were carried out without any access to or knowledge about the follow-up status of the offenders.

For the second source researchers accessed and integrated four outcome record sources for all these offenders to obtain comprehensive follow-up data from from the Massachusetts Board of Probation records, the Massachusetts Parole Board records, the Massachusetts Treatment Center Authorized Absence Program records, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) records.

Two coding teams were created. Team A helped with some offender classification and DSM IV judgments and offender classifications. Team A had access to the complete case files and to recidivism data. This team reviewed each case file, edited it to remove any clues as to whether the offender had recidivated, assured its anonymity, and attached a case identity number. The case file was then scanned, converted into a PDF file, burned onto a CD, and mailed to Team B. Upon receiving the cases, Team B printed the file and assigned it to a coder. The assigned coder scored a predefined list of items and entered the results into an Access database. Copies of the Access database were then periodically returned to both the Team A and Team B coordinators. Coders were instructed to return any case file that they believed gave them any clue as to whether the offender had recidivated. This applied in a small number of cases. These were then checked, the clue was removed, and the case assigned to a different coder. In general Team A was responsible for (a) purifying, redacting, and scanning detailed copies of offenders' files, (b) for classifying all BOs using both the MTC typologies and the DSM IV Conduct Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder categories, and (c) classifying a subset of BTs using the DSM IV Conduct Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder categories. Team B was responsible for coding all actuarials and the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) on all offenders in the study, and for classifying all BTs using the DSM IV Conduct Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder categories. Coders were not privy to any follow-up data. When all of the predictive data were complete, researchers joined the follow-up data to the predictive scale file. For all offenders these records included information gathered during the 60-day evaluation at the MTC. This information came from a variety of sources, including school and employer reports, probation and parole records, psychiatric and medical reports, psychological testing, and clinical interviews coalesced at the time of their evaluation for commitment. For the committed sample these records additionally included all information subsequently added during the participant's commitment (quarterly treatment reports, ward behavior and work reports, and subsequent assessments for release consideration).

The sample was drawn from an earlier study in which researchers had followed 599 offenders who had been referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center (MTC) for evaluation between 1959 and 1984. Of these, 266 (Bridgewater Treatment [BT] sample) had been committed to MTC as "sexually dangerous" and subsequently released, and 333 (Bridgewater Observation [BO] sample) had been determined not to be sexually dangerous and returned to finish their sentences. Of the 333 BO offenders, 200 constituted a matched sample (on age at evaluation, marital status, and number of prior crimes) and 200 were randomly sampled from the entire sample BO population evaluated. There was an overlap of 67 offenders selected by both the random and matched process.

Offenders who had been referred to the Massachusetts Treatment Center between 1959 and 1984.

individual

Massachusetts Board of Probation records

Federal Bureau of Investigation records

Massachusetts Parole Board records

Offender's Massachusetts Treatment Center clinical and criminal archival records

Massachusetts Treatment Center Authorized Absence Program records

administrative records data

record abstracts

The dataset contains variables which record scores from modern empirically-derived, mechanical actuarials that have been developed since 1997 for predicting sexual recidivism, including the Rapid Risk Assessment for Sex Offence Recidivism (Hanson, 1997), the Static-99 (Hanson and Thornton, 2000), the Static-2002 (Hanson and Thornton, 2003), the Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (Quinsey, Harris, Rice, and Cormier, 1998), the Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool (Epperson, Kaul, Huot, Hesselton, Alexander, and Goldman, 1998), and the Risk Matrix 2000 (Thornton et al., 2003). The data also contain information on two structured clinical guidelines, the Sexual Violence Risk-20 (Boer, Hart, Kropp, and Webster, 1997) and the Adult Sex Offender Assessment Protocol-II (Prentky and Righthand, 2003), and on a new experimental measure, the Structured Risk Assessment Sexualization Needs Assessment scale (Thornton, 2002). Offenders were also categorized in the Massachusetts Treatment Center Rapist (MTC:R3) and Child Molester (MTC:CM3) typologies and diagnosed according to DSM-IV Antisocial Personality Disorder and Conduct Disorder criteria. Additionally, the data contain ratings for the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R), MTC archival files, the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG), and MTC coding dictionaries. The data also contain information relating to the offender's criminal history, the offender's IQ, and how long before the offender committed additional crimes.

Not applicable.

  • Rapid Risk Assessment for Sex Offence Recidivism (RRASOR) (Hanson, 1997)
  • Static-99 (Hanson and Thornton, 2000)
  • Static-2002 (Hanson and Thornton, 2003)
  • Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG) (Quinsey, Harris, Rice, and Cormier, 1998)
  • Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool (MnSOST-R) (Epperson, Kaul, Huot, Hesselton, Alexander, and Goldman, 1998)
  • Risk Matrix 2000 (Thornton et al., 2003)
  • Sexual Violence Risk-20 (SVR-20) (Boer, Hart, Kropp, and Webster, 1997)
  • Adult Sex Offender Assessment Protocol-II (A-SOAP-II) (Prentky and Righthand, 2003)
  • Structured Risk Assessment (SRA) Sexualization Needs Assessment scale (Thornton, 2002)
  • Massachusetts Treatment Center Rapist (MTC:R3)
  • Massachusetts Treatment Center Rapist Child Molester (MTC:CM3)
  • DSM-IV Antisocial Personality Disorder and Conduct Disorder
  • Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) (Hare, 2003)
  • Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) (Harris, Rice, and Quinsey, 1993)

2010-03-31

2010-03-31

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  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Standardized missing values.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

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This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.