Predicting future violence among criminal offenders is notoriously difficult. In the first edition of their popular book Violent Offenders: Appraising and Managing Risk, Vernon L. Quinsey, Grant T. Harris, Marnie E. Rice, and Catherine A. Cormier argued that community risk management can be improved by using actuarial assessment and by combining what is known about the prediction of violence, the study of clinical decision making, and the literature on treatment outcome and program evaluation. In that best-selling book, they reported on their long-term research at the Oak Ridge Division of the Penetanguishene Mental Health Care Centre, in Ontario, Canada—probably the most thoroughly studied maximum security psychiatric facility in the world—and chronicled the development of their assessment instrument the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide.

Since that first edition appeared, the field of violence risk assessment has exploded. The literature base is much larger and richer, as is the relevant commentary. In this new edition, the authors update their review, focusing on the actuarial instruments they developed and described earlier and on the measures they have continued to develop. In their lively style, they review the commentary on risk appraisal, addressing 20 of the most common arguments against actuarial risk appraisal. They clarify how to score items of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) and Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG) based on extensive inquiries from professionals who use these instruments in the field. Lastly, they provide a more detailed description of the development of the SORAG.

A must-read for all legal and psychological professionals and policy makers who participate in decisions on whether, when, and under what circumstances violent offenders should be released, or how they should be managed.

Table of Contents



I. Historical and Methodological Context

  1. Historical Perspective
  2. Previous Research on Prediction
  3. Methods and Measurement
  4. Clinical Judgment

II. A New Generation of Follow-Up Studies

  1. Mentally Disordered Offenders
  2. Fire Setters
  3. Sex Offenders

III. Development of Violence Prediction Instruments

  1. Actuarial Prediction of Violence
  2. Criticisms of Actuarial Risk Assessment

IV. Altering the Risk of Violence and Conclusions

  1. Treatment and Management
  2. Conclusions



  1. Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG)
  2. Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG)
  3. Normative Data on the Distribution of Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) and Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG) Scores
  4. Technical Questions About the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) and the Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG)
  5. Cormier–Lang System for Quantifying Criminal History
  6. Guidelines for the Compilation of a Psychosocial History Suitable for Risk Appraisal
  7. Sample Psychosocial History Suitable for Use in Scoring the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) and the Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG)
  8. Scoring the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) From a Psychosocial History
  9. Scoring the Sex Offender Risk Appraisal Guide (SORAG) From a Psychosocial History
  10. Actuarial Risk Appraisal Report for an Offender
  11. Sample Psychosocial History and Scoring of the Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) for a Psychiatric Offender
  12. Problem Identification Checklist (File Version)
  13. Proximal Risk Factor Scale
  14. Dynamic Risk Appraisal Scale
  15. Cross-Sectional Oak Ridge Statistics Over 35 Years


Author Index

Subject Index

About the Authors

Reviews & Awards

This is the book to have if you want to learn about risk assessment from those who are actually doing it. I have not read a book comparable to this one.
—Doody Enterprises, Inc.