Intended for healthcare professionals


Predicting psychopaths’ violent behaviour is no better than chance, study finds

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 02 October 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f5958
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

Risk assessment tools used to predict the chances of a prisoner’s reoffending if they are released are “useless” for people with psychopathic personalities and antisocial personality disorders, a study published online in the British Journal of Psychiatry has found.1

Around 40% of people convicted of violent crimes reoffend within two years when released by the criminal justice system, and among those held in secure mental health facilities the proportion is around 4-7%.

Parole boards rely heavily on risk assessment tools when deciding whether a prisoner would pose a future risk to society if released, and in some US states the tools influence decisions on whether a convicted criminal should receive the death penalty.

However, the study’s lead researcher, …

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