The uncritical acceptance of risk assessment in forensic practice

Law Hum Behav. 2000 Oct;24(5):595-605. doi: 10.1023/a:1005575113507.


Forensic psychologists are frequently asked to conduction evaluations of risk assessment. While risk assessment has considerable merit, recent applications to forensic psychology raise concerns about whether these evaluations are thorough and balanced. Forensic adult risk-assessment models stress risk factors, and deemphasize or disregard entirely the other side of the equation: protective factors. Mediating and moderating effects must also be considered. Moreover, base-rate estimates may produce erroneous results if applied imprudently to forensic samples without regard to their unstable prevalence rates or the far-reaching effects of settings, referral questions, and evaluation procedures. Psychologists are offered a preliminary list of relevant issues for evaluating the merits of risk assessment in their forensic practices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Crime / psychology*
  • Forensic Psychiatry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Prognosis
  • Risk Assessment / methods*