Reliability of sexually violent predator civil commitment criteria in Florida

Law Hum Behav. 2004 Aug;28(4):357-68. doi: 10.1023/


The present study investigated the reliability of Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) civil commitment criteria under Florida's Jimmy Ryce Act. The purpose of the study was to determine if, independently, 2 evaluators would reach the same conclusions about the same client (n = 295). According to civil commitment criteria outlined by the United States Supreme Court (Kansas v. Hendricks, 1997), SVPs must display a mental abnormality predisposing them to sexual violence and a likelihood of future sexual violence. The interrater reliability of 8 DSM-IV diagnoses applied by evaluators to determine whether a client has a "mental abnormality that predisposes him to sexual violence" was found to be poor to fair (kappa = .23 to . 70). The interrater reliability of risk assessment instruments used to determine "likelihood of reoffense" was good (ICC = .77 to .85). The recommendations made by evaluators regarding whether or not to refer a client for civil commitment demonstrated poor reliability (kappa = .54). Implications for practice and policy are explored.

Publication types

  • Legal Case

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Dangerous Behavior
  • Data Collection
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Observer Variation
  • Paraphilic Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Paraphilic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sadism / diagnosis*
  • Sadism / psychology
  • Sex Offenses / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Sex Offenses / psychology*
  • Sex Offenses / statistics & numerical data
  • Violence / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Violence / psychology*
  • Violence / statistics & numerical data