SAGE Journal Articles
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Abstract: There is ongoing debate and confusion over using actuarial scales to predict individuals’ risk of sexual recidivism. Much of the debate comes from not distinguishing Frequentist from Bayesian definitions of probability. Much of the confusion comes from applying Frequentist probability to individuals’ risk. By definition, only Bayesian probability can be applied to the single case. The Bayesian concept of probability resolves most of the confusion and much of the debate in sex offender risk assessment. Although Bayesian probability is well accepted in risk assessment generally, it has not been widely used to assess the risk of sex offenders. I review the two concepts of probability and show how the Bayesian view alone provides a coherent scheme to conceptualize individuals’ risk of sexual recidivism.