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33 Behav. Sci. & L. 1 (2015)

handle is hein.journals/bsclw33 and id is 1 raw text is: 




Behavioral Sciences and the Law
Behav. Sci. Law 33: 1 18 (2015)
Published online in Wiley Online Library
(wileyonlinelibrary.com) DOI: 10.1002/bsl.2160



Communicating the Risk of Violent and

Offending Behavior: Review and Introduction

to this Special Issue


N. Zoe Hilton*'t, Nicholas Scuricht and Leslie-Maaike HelmusO


How to communicate risk of recidivism in correctional and forensic contexts has been a
subject of scholarly discussion for two decades. This emerging literature, however, is
sparse compared with studies on the assessment of risk for violent and offending behavior.
In this special issue of Behavioral Sciences and the Law, we have gathered together empir-
ical and review papers exemplifying promising directions and methodologies. We begin
with a review of the state of the field, and lessons that can be drawn from research into
medical risk assessment and risk communication, finding that many of the same principles
apply to the forensic context. How risks are framed, and how numerate assessors are,
affects how risk information is understood and applied. We discuss the existing research
bearing on these issues, as well as the conceptual, practical, empirical, and legal implica-
tions of communicating risk using numerical or categorical risk terms. Along with the
seven articles in this volume, we suggest directions for future research on measuring and
communicating change, understanding and managing the statistical literacy of those who
use and communicate risk assessments, and developing a theoretical framework for foren-
sic risk communication research. We hope this volume will help integrate and invigorate
research into forensic risk communication. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


How the risk of recidivism should be communicated in correctional and forensic
contexts has been a subject of scholarly discussion for two decades. It began with early
attempts to develop recommendations for clinical practice and legal admissibility (e.g.,
Borum, 1996; Cunningham & Reidy, 1999; Heilbrun, Dvoskin, Hart, & McNiel, 1999;
Koehler & Shaviro, 1990) and to identify the research needed in this field (e.g., Grisso
& Tomkins, 1996; Heilbrun et al., 1999). In the past 20 years, variables affecting foren-
sic risk perception and communication have been empirically tested, new statistical
methods developed, and legal implications reviewed. The literature now includes
experimental research, analyses of decision-making practices, and recommendations
for clinical practice or legal admissibility concerning the risk posed by offenders and
forensic patients. This emerging literature, however, is sparse compared with studies
on the assessment of risk for violent and offending behavior and the communication
of other hazards (e.g., Mills, Kroner, & Morgan, 2011), despite the important link


* Correspondence to: N. Zoe Hilton, Waypoint Research Institute, 500 Church Street, Penetanguishene, ON
L9M 1G3, Canada. E-mail: zhiltongwaypointcentre.ca
tDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and Waypoint Research Institute, Penetanguishene, ON
Canada
*Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, and Department of Criminology, Law & Society, School of
Law, University of California, Irvine, CA
Forensic Assessment Group, Ottawa, Canada


Copyright 0 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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