By Karen Franklin
Developers staunchly refused requests to turn over data
For several years now, the developers of the most widely used sex offender risk assessment tool in the world have refused to share their data with independent researchers and statisticians seeking to cross-check the instrument's methodology.
Now, a Wisconsin judge has ordered the influential Static-99R instrument excluded from a sexually violent predator (SVP) trial, on the grounds that failure to release the data violates a respondent's legal right to due process.
The ruling may be the first time that the Static-99R has been excluded altogether from court. At least one prior court, in New Hampshire, barred an experimental method (PDF) that is currently popular among government evaluators, in which Static-99R risk estimates are artificially inflated by comparing sex offenders to a specially selected "high-risk" sub-group, a procedure that has not been empirically validated in any published research.