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Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment [saj] PP021-290756 December 15, 2000 13:45 Style ﬁle version Nov. 19th, 1999
Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, Vol. 13, No. 2, 2001
A Structured Approach to Evaluating Change
Among Sexual Offenders
R. Karl Hanson
and Andrew J. R. Harris
Presently, there areno established scales that evaluate change in risk among sexual
offenders.The SexOffenderNeed Assessment Rating(SONAR)was developedtoﬁll
this gap. The SONAR includes ﬁve relatively stable factors (intimacy deﬁcits, neg-
ative social inﬂuences, attitudes tolerant of sex offending, sexual self-regulation,
general self-regulation) and four acute factors (substance abuse, negative mood,
anger, victim access). The psychometric properties of the scale were examined
using data previously collected by Hanson and Harris (1998, 2000). Overall, the
scale showed adequate internal consistency and moderate ability to differentiate
between recidivists and nonrecidivists (r = .43; ROC area of .74). SONAR contin-
ued to distinguish between the groups after controlling for well-established risk
indicators, such as age, and scores on the Static-99 (Hanson & Thornton, 2000)
and the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (Quinsey, Harris, Rice, & Cormier, 1998).
KEY WORDS: sexual offenders; dynamic risk assessment; community supervision.
Recent years have seen considerable advances in risk assessment, both for
sexual offenders and other violent offenders. A number of offender characteristics,
such as sexual deviance and criminal lifestyle, have been reliably linked with
recidivismrisk (Hanson & Bussi`ere, 1998), and several specialised risk scales have
been developed (Epperson, Kaul, & Hesselton, 1998; Hanson, 1997a; Hanson &
Thornton, 1999, 2000; Quinsey, Harris, Rice, & Cormier, 1998). Although the
existing scales can be useful for evaluating long-term risk potential, they are poor
measures of change. Most of the items on extant scales are static historical items,
which never change. Consequently, these scales are of little help for many risk
Department of the Solicitor General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Corrections Research, Department of the Solicitor
General of Canada, 340 Laurier Ave., West, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1A 0P8.
2001 Plenum Publishing Corporation