Risk assessment tools are employed for the purposes of identifying and managing the people at risk of certain tendencies that may be harmful to them. Some risk assessment tools have been developed as a consequence of determining the behaviors of individuals and their propensities to cause harm or disrupt the peace in certain jurisdictions. In the recent past, more than a hundred and twenty risks assessment researchers have established tools. Their validity and viability have been proven in dealing with psychiatric cases across various societies. The two articles chosen for this study focus on various dimensions of the assessment, yet all are geared towards establishing if they are properly functional and how they are applied in various settings. One of the studies focuses on the Psychopathy Checklist and the violence risk appraisal guide as instruments used to assess the risk of violence (Skeem & Edens, 2006). The other study provides perspectives on the assessment tools that are embedded and notes that even though the instruments have been used over time, they have not proven to be effective than the others.
Summary of the article
Clinicians in various institutions are often asked to assess the various tendencies of violent behaviors in individuals, yet there are tools that are going beyond the specified limits. The consequences of those assessments are that they may not provide appropriate details that are required for the appropriate determination of the risk factors manifested by an individual. There are certain instruments that are derived, in particular, statistical fashion derived from some samples that involve weighing procedures and complex scoring (Skeem & Edens, 2006). These variables may not be relevant or present across all the settings. Risk assessment tools should be analyzed and evaluated on the basis of the extent to which they exemplify incremental validity. This assertion is built on the premise that a risk assessment tool should be examined based on how it can improve on the findings of another instrument (Skeem & Edens, 2006). Violence risk assessment guide (VRAG) is a risk assessment tool that has been used over the past years.
This instrumental use a combination of twelve risk factors, some of which include alcohol problems, chopathy, and marital status. These factors are used because of the perceptions that they contribute to the prediction and determination of violent criminal behaviors in a particular sample, especially in male forensic patients. The application of VRAG has been intensively scrutinized because of the settings and samples. Such variables are used in determining the generalizability of the assessment instrument. Even though VRAG has been consistently used in different setups over the years, it has been determined that is inconsistent in terms of improving on other risk factors. Consequently, the clinical establishment of the instrument is non-correctional and non-forensic (Skeem & Edens, 2006).
Some studies analyze its validity on improving on risk factors, but most of the outcomes have been found to be inclusive effectively cementing the assertions that VRAG is not a tool that can be relied on wholesale. Even when modified and used with other methods in understanding community violence, in most instances VRAG falls under the curve (Skeem & Edens, 2006). Some of the data have been validated and extensively examined; the robustness of the VRAG has been questioned. Most of the components of the VRAG have certain areas that are not coherent with the overall evaluation of violent behaviors.
Thesis statement of the article
Even though VRAG is used in screening of psychiatric patients to determine the propensity of violent behaviors, it has been observed that it is inconsistent and does not improve on the validity of other risk factors (Skeem & Edens, 2006).
The study employed data collection analysis in line with the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment research. The study interviewed 1, 136 patients and close to 71% of those cross-examined had initially gone through the same process in a different setup. It is imperative to note that most of the patients were young. The study also incorporated some races as a consequence of having a representative sample. White, Hispanics, and African-Americans were interviewed. The males who interrogated were 59%, while those voluntarily admitted amounted to 58%. After the patients had been discharged, they were then re-interviewed for about five times while out of the hospitals. The follow-ups were inherently successful. Some of the close associates of the patients, such as the family members were interviewed.
Combining the collateral report, review of official records and patient report, were employed in the assessment of patients. The study defined violence as a battery that resulted in sexual assault, physical injury and use of weapons. Consequently, the use of weapons used to provoke or scare other people was defined as a violent activity. PCL: SC was dispensed during the follow-ups as a measure of reducing the difficulties in measuring the inherent personality characteristics. The description for testing and scoring was applied in so far as modified VRAG is concerned. Some variables used in the study were inconsistent and unclear (Skeem & Edens, 2006).
The result was N-695 against 741, and this was not an expected discrepancy. Essentially, the method used qualified the insinuation that the instrument does not validly provide appropriate scores that can be employed in improving the other risk factors. The study had overlapping variables to the extent that the results should have been consistent if it were valid in terms of exposing the correct data (Skeem & Edens, 2006). The variance in the outcome of the scores intimates that there are deficiencies that are manifest in the modified VRAG instrument.
The findings provide a broad basis over which some issues can be painted. Two findings were released from the study. The first outcome was to determine the relationship between VRAG that is modified and the acts of violence among psychiatric clients. The characteristics that were tapped by PCL: SL was controlled. Secondly, only 1 out of the 10 items determined the validity of the VRAG that has been modified. These findings, submit that robust correlation of violence is coherent with personality factors that are manifest across the non-psychiatric and psychiatric samples (Skeem & Edens, 2006). However, these findings do not give credit to the VRAG instrument in so far as a generalization of samples is concerned. The results noted that the incremental validity as exhibited in the study was below the conventional standards. A modified VRAG and one incorporated with PCL: SV were both used in the study, but the outcomes were diverse and not consistent with the perceived risk factors correlation. The study determined that the relations between PCL: SV and the modified VRAG has an outcome of 0.75. However, the association and limited correlation with violent incidents reported during cross-examination and the follow-ups (Skeem & Edens, 2006).
Summary of the supportive article
Kroner et al. (2007) echo the findings aforementioned above by narrating that the VRAG is an assessment tool that yields enhanced predictive accuracies though there are some inconsistencies that crowd its validity. Kroner et al. (2007) further notes that the determination of risk recidivism requires a professional and structured approach. While preferring clinical risk assessment, risk analysis tools, others recommend the incorporation of standard risk evaluation instruments. Combinations have been found to produce valid results that can be employed in making certain general conclusions. Kroner et al. (2007) Submits that VRAG has been an instrument that was developed to establish the probability of mentally ill offenders to reoffend. The development of the risk assessment tool was done by sampling 618 male criminals from various security hospitals.
A regression analysis determined the correspondence between risk variables that was consistent with reoffending. The rate of reoffending for the seven-year period was found to be 31%. The predictive accuracy of the instrument was quoted at about 0.76 of the AUC. The study indicated that there was a higher tendency of predictive accuracy in so far as criminal recidivism and violence are concerned. Most of the variables and samples picked for the testing of VRAG were credible and consistent with the issues that were determined by the research. The samples were appropriately sampled, and the appropriate details noted as a measure of ensuring the validity of the assessment tool. While the study has been validated in various parts of the world, the study had a specific focus on Germany, and how it is credible; its components are when used.
The article has immense similarities with the first study aforementioned because there is an application of similar strategies in understanding violent activities and the risk assessment tools that are applied. The study uses a particular sample to assess and verify the validity of the VRAG in respective circumstances. Though the other study was based on samples from Canada, this particular uses simple incentives to establish verifications within Germany. The similarity is further exposed because just like the previous studies, samples are taken from criminal offenders charged with certain offenses. The outcome was tested by the ROC. The predictive probability of VRAG was satisfactorily within the levels that are established under the research methodology essentials. For instance, the area under the cover was 0.703 compared to the previous study that yielded an outcome of a similar margin of 0.75.
Essentially, the VRAG exhibits a certain discrepancy even though its predictability is relatively accurate. The data that derived from the study can be used to determine the rate at which an individual can commit an offense for a second time or a third. The modification of the VRAG based in particular circumstances can be effectively choreographed by appropriately employing the ROC analysis as well as the area under cover (AUC). Proper establishments of the two components raise the performance index of the instrument in terms of predictability.
In conclusion, the German sample certified the validity of the VRAG. Consequently, the accuracy of predicting the future trends in so far as violence is concerned was better. However, there are disparities in the outcome of the samples effectively pointing to the inconsistency of the instrument.
Literature review of the second article
The second article provides an understanding of the person-oriented perspectives and offending trajectories with respect to sexual offenders. The risk of recidivism is also projected in the study. The assumption is that the modern risk assessment instruments are embedded by means of applying the variables (Lussier & Davies, 2011). It is assumed that the reoffending risk is additive, linear and exhibits some form of stability that is manifested over time. Actuarial instruments have been castigated because they have a tendency of overestimating the other people. The discrepancies are manifest because the tools or instruments that are used do not recognize the dynamic propensities that exist in particular systems with respect to criminal offenses.
The offending trajectories are inherently different and cannot be studied using obsolete instruments. The study was based on examining the tendency of an individual to recommit an offense. The study focused on sexual offenders and the offending trajectories that are correlated to such acts under specific connotations. The study picked a sample of 246 male adults previously convicted of sexual offenses between the periods of 1994-1998. The model that was used for the study is group-based modeling, and its main purpose was to determine the offending trajectories (Lussier & Davies, 2011). Cox proportional hazard was used in the examination of the association between recidivism and trajectories. The study noted that sexual offenses are rampant when it comes to a transitory stage of a career of a criminal. Ideally, the study denounces the notion that evidence a sexual career does not conclusively suggest the propensity of committing a crime. The study concludes by noting that the available actuarial tools are not appropriate risk assessment tools that can be employed in determining criminal occurrences (Lussier & Davies, 2011).
The research on the recidivism included individuals who had been consecutively admitted to the penitentiary for committing sexual offenses between 1994 and 2000. The people picked for the study had been had been convicted and incarcerated for at least two years in the Quebec province in Canada (Lussier & Davies, 2011). The Sample size was 553 a reflection of 93% of the total participants. At the time of conducting the study, all the individuals had been convicted at the local penitentiary for the various sexual offenses. The participants were compelled to stay at the correctional facilities for about six weeks while the risk levels were examined over that period. After a particular period, the participants were taken to other areas that were thought to be favorable to them.
Criminal details for criminal trajectories were obtained, but only for about 393 individuals. The study had certain categories where the offenders were profiled. For instance, the study examined older sexual criminals who are often the subject of scrutiny by law enforcing agencies. Consequently, the research examined who had undergone a particular period engaging in sexual offenses acts. Additionally, the method focused on the criminal trajectories of the criminals and their propensities to commit similar offenses. The study intimated that more time is required to ascertain or evaluate the criminal trajectories presented in the context before presenting an outcome that is valid.
The trajectory models were analyzed differently in this particular order;
• Violent only
• Sexual only
An analysis and evaluation of the violent charges were examined based on the charges. Best model fits were only established for two existing groups. BIC has been used to determine the number of groups occasionally to be used, but there are instances when the practice is not always considered when comprehensibility and parsimony are cogitated. There was a variation in the trajectories identified for the offenders of different ages. The group-based model applied in this context exhibited the dominant patterns of criminal sexual offenders have a marginal rate of offending sexually or violently. The study intimates that the sex crimes can be studied effectively when the careers of the offenders are in a transitory stage.
Those between the ages of 18 and 35 were found to exhibit a high rate of sexual offenses patterns. The research did not focus on the trajectories that were prevalent in other domains. Child molesters had a low propensity for committing similar crimes while women aggressors had high tendencies of sexually abusing the women. Child molesters are often convicted of being involved in sexual incidences that are unwanted. The adult population is more documented than those who focus on abusing the women in respective settings. The trajectories have diverse implications and cannot be authoritatively employed in the evaluation of facts that determine the sexual offenses commit by certain individuals.
Freiburger et al. (2012) intimates that several policies have been established over time to deal with offenses that have been assumed to have criminal trajectories. The policies are applied on the basis that the crimes committed are constant in nature, and the offenders have homogeneous traits. Each group has areas of specialization through which they commit the offenses and it cannot, therefore, be assumed that there are similarities of the crimes committed and neither should the notion that the individuals have resemblances in their mode of operation. The study picked a sample of 500 sex offenders and examined how they are correlated when grouped. The study focuses on the trajectories for the offenders as well as assessing recidivism rates for the distinct groups (Freiburger et al., 2012). The study indicated that there are three groups that are analyzed with various paths. The outcome of the study indicated sexual criminals are more likely to commit violence, drug offense, property and recidivate.
Some issues are raised in relation to the suggestion that sexual offenders are lethal criminal offenders than others. The recidivism rates of sexual criminals have provided evidence that is contrary to the popular beliefs. The research has shown that sexual offenders have the lowest chances of committing similar crimes. It is not proper for sexual offenders to be subjected to a similar mode of punishment because they have distinct trajectories through which they commit various offenses (Freiburger et al., 2012). Sexual offenders can be grouped into different groups as a consequence of determining how the issues can be dealt with effectively. It is necessary to examine the sexual offenders through the categories they fall in because the variables that are assigned to each entity have some differences. The sexual offenders do not commit similar offenses in the sense that while others have the propensity to commit more crimes; others have indicated that they can change from such tendencies (Freiburger et al., 2012).
In conclusion, recidivism of sexual offenders has inherent distinctions, especially when defined through groups. The trajectories manifest in each group cannot be compared with the rest of the logs. Official sex offenders between the ages of 22 and 33 are more likely to commit sex offenses than the others.
Freiburger, T., Marcum, C.D., Iannacchione, B., & Higgins, G. (2012). ‘Sex offenders and criminal recidivism: An exploratory trajectory analysis using a Virginia sample’. Journal of Crime & Justice, 35(3), 365-375.
Kroner et al. (2007). ‘The validity of the violence risk appraisal guide (VRAG) in predicting criminal recidivism.’ Criminal Behavior and Mental Health. Vol 17. 89-100.
Lussier, P. & Davies D. (2011). A Person-Oriented Perspective on. Sexual Offenders, Offending Trajectories, and. Risk of Recidivism. Psychology, Public Policy and Law, 17 (4), 530- 561.
Skeem, Jennifer L. & Edens, John F. (2006). Incremental Validity Analyses of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide and the Psychopathy Checklist: Screening Version in a Civil Psychiatric Sample. Assessment, Vol. 3. 368-374.