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SOAB Assessment Standards

The Sexual Offenders Assessment Board sets the following as standards for the assessment of sex offenders as required by statute:
  • The SOAB conducts an empirically based/guided forensic assessment. 
  • The court-ordered assessment requires the Board to address the referral question, “Does the offender have a personality disorder or mental abnormality that makes it likely he will engage in predatory sexual violence?” 
  • The SOAB does not use risk assessment instruments at this juncture, for court-ordered assessments, in that they do not fully address the referral question, and do not include the issue of personality disorder, or mental abnormality as a predisposing element. 
  • The SOAB will make use of such risk assessment instruments that are appropriate, in assessing sex offenders for the PBPP. 
  • The assessment shall answer the referral question, by exploring sexual deviance, established in personality disorder, mental abnormality, or other characterlogical basis, and manifested in deliberate, intentional acts of behavior, otherwise known as predatory.
  • Should the Board member chose to use testing, for court-ordered assessments, said testing will be limited to standard intelligence tests, neuropsychological tests, or personality/mental abnormality tests, as well as objective tests that measure sexual interests.
  • No SOAB member should make use of a test that he is not qualified to interpret or administer. 
  • Testing is not required to address the referral question established by statute. 
  • Personality disorder shall be established on the basis of the criteria set forth in the DSM-IV, TR, or subsequent revisions. 
  • Mental abnormality shall be established on the basis of the criteria set forth in the DSM-IV, TR, or by the criteria of the Hare PCL-R. 
  • Predatory behavior is established through an analysis of the offense behavior, the relationship of the offender to the victim, the sequence of behavior, and the relationship of the offense behaviors to those behaviors established in the field of sexual deviancy as being related to the risk to re-offend sexually. 
  • All SOAB members shall consider the criteria set forth in statute, including but not limited to such as age of offender, mental capacity of the victim, whether the offense involved multiple victims, for their relevance both to personality disorder/mental abnormality, as well as to predatory sexual behavior, as found in the empirical literature in the field of sexual deviance. 
  • The SOAB member shall offer the offender an interview, unless advised by defense counsel that the offender is declining an interview. 
  • No interview is necessary to address the referral question under statute. 
  • SOAB members shall always qualify the limitations of their assessment. 
  • All SOAB members shall prepare an impartial assessment, presenting accurate and objective data in support of their opinion. 
  • The SOAB members shall provide informed consent to the offender, as was provided by the SOAB investigator, fully explaining the scope of the assessment and the limits of confidentiality. 
  • The assessment shall be conducted using the materials of the investigation that may include such things as criminal history, child protective agency reports, probation and parole reports, records of the district attorney, clerk of court, prothonotary, domestic relations, medical records, mental health records, pre-sentence investigations, previous evaluations and treatment reports, police reports, and collateral interviews of relevant persons. 
  • SOAB members will carefully weigh the credibility and validity of each source of information in reaching his or her opinion.
  • All information reviewed is weighed against all other information, as well as for bias, completeness, and consistency. 
  • It is preferential that the victim’s account as provided to the police or in trial is considered sufficient, and that victims are not re-interviewed for the offender’s assessment.  Should the investigator or assessor wish to interview the victim, it is suggested that contact be made with a victim’s services office, which can approach the victim for the SOAB. 
  • The assessment for the Pennsylvania Parole Board, as allowed by statute, does not call for the SOAB to determine if the offender meets the criteria to be classified as a sexually violent predator.  The assessment for the Parole Board will address the offender’s deviant sexual behavior, static and dynamic factors relevant to his sexual offending behavior, as well as factors related to his risk to re-offend sexually.  Also of concern will be issues of sex offender management as well as sex offender treatment.  The SOAB makes no recommendations for or against parole. 
  • Assessments on behalf of the Parole Board may make use of additional tests or measures of sexual deviancy that relate to sex offender treatment issues, an area not concerned under statute for court-ordered assessments. 
  • The SOAB member shall submit the assessment to the SOAB staff for review for technical correctness only; the opinion formed is solely that of the SOAB member.