Sex Offender Evaluations
Psycholegal Assessments, Inc. (formerly Psycholegal & Clinical Assessment Services) offers objective, comprehensive, and thorough sex offender evaluations for individuals charged with a sexual crime, including pre-plea and pre-sentence sex offender evaluations, as well as sex offender evaluations for probation. All sex offender evaluations include a detailed risk assessment that includes use of actuarial instruments (when appropriate) and other research based risk and protective factors. Recidivism rates are not uniform across all sex offenders and once convicted, most sexual offenders are never re-convicted of another sexual offense. First time sex offenders are significantly less likely to sexually re-offend than are those with previous sexual convictions. In addition, for those sex offenders who have re-offended, the longer they remain in the community offense-free, the less likely they are to re-offend sexually (up to 50% for each 5 year period they remain offense free). Research has found that contemporary cognitive-behavioral treatment for sex offenders is associated with reductions in sexual offense recidivism rates from 10% to 17% after approximately 5 years of follow-up. Sexual offenders with a credible release plan are lower risk than sexual offenders without such a plan, and cooperation with supervision is a well-established factor that reduces risk (and non-compliance with supervision increases sexual re-offense risk).
Dr. Steven Gaskell has extensive expertise in sex offender evaluations, evaluating individuals charged with sexual crimes, and performing comprehensive credible sex offender risk assessments that have been accepted by State and Federal courts. Psychological evaluation of a sexual offender requires a review of all materials relevant to the offenses, including statements to the police, previous psychological evaluations, witness accounts of his/her behavior, and past criminal record. Such sex offender evaluations typically include a comprehensive review of all available legal, medical, and mental health records, and psychosexual testing including the Multiphasic Sex Inventory II (MSI-II). The adult male form of the MSI II (2000) is designed to measure the sexual characteristics of sex offenders or alleged sex offenders. In addition to the core scales of the Original MSI, the MSI II has additional reliability/validity, psychosexual, behavioral and accountability measures. General psychological testing is also given in sex offender evaluations including such tests as the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory – 2 RF (MMPI-2 RF) and the Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI). Other psychological testing is given based on the need of the particular individual being evaluated. Future risk assessment in sex offender evaluations includes the use of empirically validated actuarial instruments (i.e., Static-99R, Static-2002R, MnSOST-R), application of additional research based risk and protective factors to sexually reoffend, and a clinical interview are also utilized. The sex offender evaluation psychological report outlines the individual’s mental disorder(s), a prognosis regarding the estimated risk to sexually re-offend (e.g., Low, Moderate or High), sexual deviancy issues, treatment amenability, possible mitigating factors, and other recommendations as appropriate.
- Sexual developmental history, sexual arousal patterns and interest, deviance and paraphilic disorders
- Personality pathology and strengths
- Level of deception, denial, minimization and use of justifications
- Acceptance of responsibility and accountability for behavior
- Mental disorder and relevant prior mental health history
- Drug and alcohol use
- Recent maladaptive behavior
- Medical/neurological/pharmacological needs
- Level of violence and coercion
- Motivation and amenability for treatment
- High-risk behaviors
- Risk of re-offense including actuarial risk and other empirical based risk and protective factors
- Level of treatment and supervision need
Dr. Gaskell, forensic psychologist at Psycholegal Assessments, Inc., has completed over 1250 Forensic Psychological Evaluations including more than 680 sex offender evaluations, mostly within the context of Sexually Violent Person or Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) evaluations; however, he has also completed numerous sex offender evaluations on persons who have been charged with a sexual offense for the first time or who are repeat offenders. He has performed sex offender evaluations for Sexually Violent Person evaluations both pre-probable cause and post-probable cause. He has testified in approximately 70 Sexually Violent Person or Sexually Violent Predator (SVP) cases and he has testified as an expert witness for both the prosecution and the defense. He has also been deposed in such cases on over 20 occasions. Dr. Gaskell also performs psychological evaluations and sex offender evaluations for Adam Walsh Act waivers. He has been qualified as an expert in sex offender evaluations and he has given testimony as a forensic psychology expert in the following Illinois counties: Cook County, Will County, DuPage County, Kane County, Kendall County, Lake County, Winnebago County, Kankakee County, Ogle County, Bureau County, Fulton County, Champaign County, Sangamon County, Madison County, Adams County, Knox County, Boone County and Jefferson County. He has also provided expert testimony regarding sexual offenders in several counties throughout Kansas. Sex offender evaluations can be completed for several counties in Georgia, including, but not limited to: Fulton County, Gwinnett County, Cobb County, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Rockdale County, Douglas County, Henry County, Forsyth County, Bibb County, Houston County, and Laurens County.
Dr. Gaskell is credentialed by the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology. He is a Clinical Member of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) and he is a Registered Evaluator with the Illinois Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB). He also has been qualified as a Sex Offender Risk Assessment Evaluator by the DuPage County Department of Probation and Court Services.
Sexually Dangerous Persons
Psycholegal Assessments, Inc. accepts referrals for sex offender evaluations of persons being considered for the Sexually Dangerous Persons Acts in Illinois (725 ILCS 205). Dr. Steven Gaskell is a qualified evaluator with extensive expertise and specialization in sex offender evaluations. Dr. Gaskell
evaluates whether the respondent has a “mental disorder,” meaning a congenital or acquired condition affecting the emotional or volitional capacity that predisposes the person to engage in acts of sexual violence. Such a mental disorder has to have existed for a period of not less than a year immediately prior to the filing of the Sexually Dangerous Person Petition, coupled with criminal propensities to the commission of sexual offenses, and who have demonstrated propensities toward acts of sexual assault or acts of sexual molestation with children. Criminal propensities to the commission of sexual offenses means that it is substantially probable that the person subject to the commitment proceeding will engage in the commission of sex offenses in the future, if not confined. If a sex offender is found to be and committed as a Sexually Dangerous Person, they are committed and treated until they have recovered from their condition or they are no longer dangerous. If the court finds that the person appears to be no longer dangerous, but that it is impossible to determine with certainty under conditions of institutional care that the person has fully recovered, the court shall enter an order granting Conditional Release.
Sexually Violent Persons or Sexually Violent Predators (SVP) Evaluations
Psycholegal Assessments, Inc. has had a contract to conduct sex offender evaluations for post-probable cause Sexually Violent Person evaluations in Illinois. Dr. Gaskell has performed such Sexually Violent Person sex offender evaluations in Illinois since 2005 and he continues to do so. He also completed pre-probable cause sex offender evaluations for sex offenders in Kansas being considered under the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator Act from 1999 to 2001.
Psycholegal Assessments, Inc. accepts referrals for sex offender evaluations of pre-probable cause and post-probable cause Sexually Violent Person and Sexually Violent Predator Evaluations nationwide, with the exception of Illinois. Second opinion sex offender evaluations and trial consultation services are also available.
State Standards for Sexually Violent Persons or Sexually Violent Predators
In Illinois a Sexually Violent Person is defined in 725 ILCS 207/5 (f) as the following: “Sexually violent person” means a person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has been adjudicated delinquent for a sexual violent offense, or has been found not guilty of a sexual violent offense by reason of insanity and who is dangerous because he or she suffers from a mental disorder that makes it substantially probable that the person will engage in acts of sexual violence.
Dr. Gaskell performs sex offender evaluations of persons who have been found to be Sexually Violent Persons in the state of Illinois.
In Kansas, Statute Chapter 59, Article 29a (59-29a02 Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators) defines a Sexually Violent Predator as:
(a) “Sexually violent predator” means any person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder which makes the person likely to engage in repeat acts of sexual violence.
(b) “Mental abnormality” means a congenital or acquired condition affecting the emotional or volitional capacity which predisposes the person to commit sexually violent offenses in a degree constituting such person a menace to the health and safety of others.
(c) “Likely to engage in repeat acts of sexual violence” means the person’s propensity to commit acts of sexual violence is of such a degree as to pose a menace to the health and safety of others.
Dr. Gaskell has performed pre-probable cause sex offender evaluations in Kansas for persons being considered under the Kansas Sexually Violent Predator statute. Dr. Gaskell will accept sex offender evaluations and Sexually Violent Predator cases in Kansas on a case by case basis.
In Iowa, Code 229 (229A.2) -Commitment of Sexually Violent Predators, defines a Sexually Violent Predator as: “a person who has been convicted of or charged with a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality which makes the person likely to engage in predatory acts constituting sexually violent offenses, if not confined in a secure facility.”
In Missouri, Section 632.480 defines a “Sexually Violent Predator” as “any person who suffers from a mental abnormality which makes the person more likely than not to engage in predatory acts of sexual violence if not confined in a secure facility and who:
(a) Has pled guilty or been found guilty, or been found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect pursuant to section 552.030 of a sexually violent offense; or
(b) Has been committed as a criminal sexual psychopath pursuant to section 632.475 and statutes in effect before August 13, 1980.”
In Wisconsin, Chapter 980 – Sexually Violent Person Commitments, defines a Sexually Violent Person as a “person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has been adjudicated delinquent for a sexually violent offense, or has been found not guilty of or not responsible for a sexually violent offense by reason of insanity or mental disease, defect, or illness, and who is dangerous because he or she suffers from a mental disorder that makes it likely that the person will engage in one or more acts of sexual violence.”
In Indiana, Code 38-38-1-7.5, defines a Sexually Violent Predator as a “person who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality disorder that makes the individual likely to repeatedly commit a sex offense.”
Sexually Violent Predator Landmark Cases
Kansas v. Hendricks (US Supreme Court, 1997) – set forth procedures for the indefinite civil commitment of prisoners convicted of a sexual offense whom the state deems dangerous due to a mental abnormality.
The Supreme Court held:
1. The Act’s definition of “mental abnormality” satisfies “substantive” due process requirements. An individual’s constitutionally protected liberty interest in avoiding physical restraint may be overridden even in the civil context (Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, 26). This Court has consistently upheld involuntary commitment statutes that detain people who are unable to control their behavior and thereby pose a danger to the public health and safety, provided the confinement takes place pursuant to proper procedures and evidentiary standards (Foucha v. Louisiana, 504 U.S. 71, 80. The Act unambiguously requires a precommitment finding of dangerousness either to one’s self or to others, and links that finding to a determination that the person suffers from a “mental abnormality” or “personality disorder.” Generally, this Court has sustained a commitment statute if it couples proof of dangerousness with proof of some additional factor, such as a “mental illness” or “mental abnormality,” see e.g., Heller v. Doe, 509 U.S. 312, 314-315, for these additional requirements serve to limit confinement to those who suffer from a volitional impairment rendering them dangerous beyond their control. The Act sets forth comparable criteria with its precommitment requirement of “mental abnormality” or “personality disorder.” Contrary to Hendricks’ argument, this Court has never required States to adopt any particular nomenclature in drafting civil commitment statutes and leaves to the States the task of defining terms of a medical nature that have legal significance (Cf. Jones v. United States, 463 U.S. 354, 365, n. 13. The legislature is therefore not required to use the specific term “mental illness” and is free to adopt any similar term. Pp. 8-13.
2. The Act does not violate the Constitution’s double jeopardy prohibition or its ban on ex post-facto lawmaking. Pp. 13-24.
(a) The Act does not establish criminal proceedings, and involuntary confinement under it is not punishment. The categorization of a particular proceeding as civil or criminal is a question of statutory construction (Allen v. Illinois, 478 U.S., 364, 368). Nothing on the face of the Act suggests that the Kansas Legislature sought to create anything other than a civil commitment scheme. That manifest intent will be rejected only if Hendricks provides the clearest proof that the scheme is so punitive in purpose or effect as to negate Kansas’ intention to deem it civil (United States v. Ward, 448 U.s. 242, 248-249). He has failed to satisfy this heavy burden. Commitment under the Act does not implicate either of the two primary objectives of criminal punishment: retribution or deterrence. Its purpose is not retributive: It does not affix culpability for prior criminal conduct, but uses such conduct solely for evidentiary purposes; it does not make criminal conviction a prerequisite for commitment; and it lacks a scienter requirement, an important element in distinguishing criminal and civil statutes. Nor can the Act be said to act as a deterrent, since persons with a mental abnormality or personality disorder are unlikely to be deterred by the threat of confinement. The conditions surrounding confinement–essentially the same as conditions for any civilly committed patient–do not suggest a punitive purpose. Although the commitment scheme here involves an affirmative restraint, such restraint of the dangerously mentally ill has been historically regarded as a legitimate nonpunitive objective (Cf. United States v. Salerno, 481 U.S. 739, 747. The confinement’s potentially indefinite duration is linked, not to any punitive objective, but to the purpose of holding a person until his mental abnormality no longer causes him to be a threat to others. He is thus permitted immediate release upon a showing that he is no longer dangerous, and the longest he can be detained pursuant to a single judicial proceeding is one year. The State’s use of procedural safeguards applicable in criminal trials does not itself turn the proceedings into criminal prosecution (Allen, supra, at 372). Finally, the Act is not necessarily punitive if it fails to offer treatment where treatment for a condition is not possible, or if treatment, though possible, is merely an ancillary, rather than an overriding, state concern. The conclusion that the Act is nonpunitive removes an essential prerequisite for both Hendricks’ double jeopardy and ex post-facto claims. Pp. 13-21.
(b) Hendricks’ confinement does not amount to a second prosecution and punishment for the offense for which he was convicted. Because the Act is civil in nature, its commitment proceedings do not constitute a second prosecution. Cf. Jones, supra. As this commitment is not tantamount to punishment, the detention does not violate the Double Jeopardy Clause, even though it follows a prison term (Baxstrom v. Herold, 383 U.S. 107. Hendricks’ argument that, even if the Act survives the “multiple punishments” test, it fails the “same elements” test of Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, is rejected, since that test does not apply outside of the successive prosecution context. Pp. 22-23.
(c) Hendricks’ ex post-facto claim is similarly flawed. The Ex Post-Facto Clause pertains exclusively to penal statutes. California Dept. of Corrections v. Morales, 514 U.S. 499, 505. Since the Act is not punishment, its application does not raise ex post-facto concerns. Moreover, the Act clearly does not have retroactive effect. It does not criminalize conduct legal before its enactment or deprive Hendricks of any defense that was available to him at the time of his crimes. Pp. 23-24.
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