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What Is SARATSO?

The term SARATSO refers to evidence-based, state authorized risk assessment tools used for evaluating sex offenders. State law established the SARATSO (State Authorized Risk Assessment Tool for Sex Offenders) Review Committee, to consider the selection of the risk assessment tools for California. Research shows that the most accurate way of predicting whether a sex offender will reoffend is by utilizing a validated risk assessment instrument. These instruments are based on research studies which followed released sex offenders and identified factors associated with those who re-offended. The Static-99R is the most widely used such instrument. Many research studies have proven its predictive accuracy. The sexual re-offense rate for the typical sex offender is between 4% and 12% after 5 years from release from custody, and between 6-22% after 10 years. (Hanson, et al., Absolute Recidivism Rates Predicted by Static-99R and Static-2002R Sex Offender Risk Assessment Tools Vary Across Samples: A Meta-Analysis, Criminal Justice and Behavior (2012) 39: 1148.) Evaluations conducted by mental health professionals who base their opinions on interviews and reviewing criminal histories have not proven to be nearly as accurate as using validated risk assessment instruments when predicting re-offense.

Recent research has shown that the predictive accuracy of re-offense can be increased slightly when dynamic (changeable) factors are combined with static (unchangeable) factors. These include things like substance abuse, personality disorder, deviant sexual interests, emotional identification with children, and self-regulation problems. A sex offender in a mandated treatment program will be assessed on other risk factors by a certified treatment provider using dynamic and violence risk assessment instruments designated by the SARATSO Committee. The combined risk level will be used to determine appropriate levels of supervision and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

For facts on how risk assessment can reduce sexual reoffending, the meaning of individual risk assessment and its validity, see our FAQs on risk assessment:

More information about risk assessment in California and the Committee can be found at the following link:

What's New?

To see the latest Bullet Report for probation, parole and DSH personnel click here!

The SARATSO Committee offers trainings for the judiciary on the new containment model and risk assessment. Click here for a flier describing how the training can help educate judges about their duties under the Containment Model.  Check the flier for information on who to contact--judges can arrange a training to fit their court’s schedule.

Probation, parole and DSH personnel can e-mail SARATSO staff (go to Contact Us) for the password to this site.

A collaborative approach to sex offender management, known as the Containment Model, is mandatory in California beginning July 1, 2012.  (See Penal Code §§ 290.09, 1203.067, 3008, and 9003.)  This sex offender management program has three required components: supervising (e.g., probation or parole) officer; sex offender treatment provider; and polygraph examiner, using a victim-centered approach.  These three people are the core of the Containment Team, although other team members should participate at times (e.g., the registering law enforcement agency).

Communication and collaboration among the supervising officer, treatment provider, and polygraph examiner are mandatory.  The treatment provider must communicate with the supervising officer at least once a month about the offender’s progress in the program and dynamic risk assessment issues.  (PC § 290.09.)  Appropriate waivers of confidentiality must be obtained.  (See CASOMB Treatment Program Certification Requirements).  Both provider and supervising officer should document these contacts.

It is a primary responsibility of the supervising officer  to ensure that communication occurs with the treatment provider occurs regularly, at least once a month, and remains open to deal with issues that arise during supervision or treatment.  Click here to see an example of a Monthly Progress/Communication Report.

The treatment provider must share the dynamic and violence risk scores and information about the scoring with the supervising officer, within 30 days of scoring the tool.  (PC § 290.09.)  It is the supervising officer’s responsibility to send the score on the dynamic tool (SRA-FV) to DOJ within 5 working days of receipt.  (See Score Reporting, www.saratso.org.)  It is the treatment provider’s responsibility to score the violence tool (LSCMI) online, using the SARATSO-issued password, and the score will be automatically sent to DOJ. 

The Containment Team must communicate about the offender’s progress and criminogenic needs.  A treatment contract with the offender should describe the responsibility of the offender to avoid risky, aggressive or re-offending behavior and high risk situations.  The treatment contract should require the offender to self-report any such behaviors to the provider and supervising officer as soon as possible.

Statutes

California laws about sex offender risk assessment are found in Penal Code sections 290.03-09, 1202.8, 1203, 1203e, 1203f, 1203.067, 3008, and 9003: www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html.