Violence and Crime

Violence and Crime

A good deal of my research, and that of my students, focuses on understanding violence, and assessing its risk among forensic and civil psychiatric patients, and criminal offenders. We are interested in learning more about the relationship between mental disorder and violence, and that factors that place some people with mental disorder at high risk for violence. Toward that end, studies are being conducted within samples of criminal offenders and civil psychiatric patients that involve comprehensive pre-release assessments, as well as community follow-ups. The goal is to measure and understand the role that a variety of violence risk factors play in elevating persons’ risk for violence in the future.

Another theme that cuts across research studies is ‘dynamic risk,’ or understanding which risk factors are more, or less, changeable. Such factors are most likely to be promising factors to focus upon in risk reduction or management efforts.

In addition, we conduct research on the predictive properties of violence risk assessment instruments. This includes the HCR-20 violence risk assessment scheme, Version 2 (Webster et al., 1997) and Version 3 (Douglas et al., 2013). The revision of the HCR-20 was completed in 2013 (see links throughout this website for more information).

As of early 2014, lab members have conducted over 900 evaluations of approximately 250 psychiatric patients and criminal offenders in a prospective, repeated measures study that addresses these topics, as well as those listed below. We have also collected data on these topics from 400 community-dwelling adults and 300 university students. These various projects have supported numerous publications, conference presentations, and theses/dissertations at the undergraduate, Masters, and PhD level.

More generally, I have been involved in the development of a model of violence risk assessment called “Structured Professional Judgment,” and specific instruments within the SPJ model, such as the HCR-20.

Victimization, Suicide, and Self-harm


Forensic Assessment

Law and Psychology