, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 266-278

Predicting Sex Offender Recidivism. I. Correcting for Item Overselection and Accuracy Overestimation in Scale Development. II. Sampling Error-Induced Attenuation of Predictive Validity Over Base Rate Information

Abstract

The authors demonstrate a statistical bootstrapping method for obtaining unbiased item selection and predictive validity estimates from a scale development sample, using data (N = 256) of Epperson et al. [2003 Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool—Revised (MnSOST—R) technical paper: Development, validation, and recommended risk level cut scores. Retrieved November 18, 2006 from Iowa State University Department of Psychology web site: http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/∼dle/mnsost_download.htm] from which the Minnesota Sex Offender Screening Tool—Revised (MnSOST—R) was developed. Validity (area under receiver operating characteristic curve) reported by Epperson et al. was .77 with 16 items selected. The present analysis yielded an asymptotically unbiased estimator AUC = .58. The present article also focused on the degree to which sampling error renders estimated cutting scores (appropriate to local [varying] recidivism base rates) nonoptimal, so that the long-run performance (measured by correct fraction, the total proportion of correct classifications) of these estimated cutting scores is poor, when they are applied to their parent populations (having assumed values for AUC and recidivism rate). This was investigated by Monte Carlo simulation over a range of AUC and recidivism rate values. Results indicate that, except for the AUC values higher than have ever been cross-validated, in combination with recidivism base rates severalfold higher than the literature average [Hanson and Morton-Bourgon, 2004, Predictors of sexual recidivism: An updated meta-analysis. (User report 2004-02.). Ottawa: Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada], the user of an instrument similar in performance to the MnSOST—R cannot expect to achieve correct fraction performance notably in excess of what is achievable from knowing the population recidivism rate alone. The authors discuss the legal implications of their findings for procedural and substantive due process in relation to state sexually violent person commitment statutes and the Supreme Court’s Kansas v. Hendricks decision regarding the constitutionality of such statutes.